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L I E> R.A 





.. VVOk.C-G.t 


Translated from the Arabic 
with an Introduction 

. By 





* THE invitation extended to me by the Publishers to 

_2 prepare an English version of the Book Al Khazari has 

| afforded me an opportunity of carrying out an intention 

^ which I had long cherished. It is now twenty years ago 

% that my German translation of the work was published, 

and it is but natural that during this long interval I was 

able to detect a number of passages which required 

correction or, at least, general revision. 

The character of the book justifies the translation in 
the interest of those who are unable to read it in the 
original, or in the Hebrew version. It was meant by 
the author to be a book for the people, and contains 
sufficient attractive and instructive material to interest 
even those readers who would skip the more abstruse 
passages. Its popularity is evidenced by the fact that 
edition after edition followed almost from the earliest 
days of the printing-press down to our own time. In- 
deed, the most elaborate edition was undertaken by a 
non-Jewish scholar. 

The present translation was made directly from the 
Arabic original, as was also the case with the German 
translation mentioned before. I deem it desirable to 
make this statement in order to explain the discrepancies 



between these two translations and all previous ones. 
Jacob Abendana's Spanish, Buxtorf 's Latin, and the late 
Dr. D. CassePs German translation, all follow the printed 
Hebrew edition which, however, already in the editio 
princeps differs considerably from the author's original. 
It was my endeavour to reproduce as much as possible the 
author's own words and to eliminate the marginal notes 
and comments which had crept into the text from the 
pens of ancient writers and readers during several cen- 

An English version of the book by E. H. Lindo exists 
in MS., now preserved in the library of Jews' College. 
A closer inspection of the same, however, revealed the 
fact that it follows in the main the Spanish version, 
and is therefore scarcely suitable for publication. 

Finally, I wish to thank Mr. J. H. Loewe, who kindly 
assisted me in reading the proofs. 





PART I . 35 


PART III . . . . . . . . .135 

PART IV . 198 

PARTY 248 




' SEARCH not,' says Ben Sira, ' what is too high for 
thee, nor examine what is beyond thy grasp ; endeavour 
not to know what is hidden, nor investigate what is 
concealed from thee ; study what is within thy mas- 
tery, but meddle not with that which is secret.' * By 
reproducing these words in explanation of a similar 
saying in the Mishnah, 2 the Talmud (both of Baby- 
lonian and Palestinian recensions), 3 and the Midrash 4 
furnish ample evidence of their inimical attitude 
towards metaphysical research. We shall see that 
the author to whose magnum opus this sketch is devoted 
made these very words his own motto. The Jewish 
religion is, by its nature, opposed to philosophic pur- 
suits and metaphysical speculation in particular. 
Yet in spite of this, mediaeval Jewish literature has 
a chapter on religious philosophy which is as extensive 
as it is profound. So strange a fact demands an ex- 
planation, or at least an investigation. 

Two factors united to draw the Jewish mind into 
the paths of philosophy. The first was that the Jews 
in the countries under Moslim rule were not behind 
in the scientific endeavours of their countrymen. They 
cultivated, in the first instance, those branches of 



study which appealed to them spontaneously, such 
as medicine, astronomy, and kindred sciences. The 
result was a class of Jewish scientists in the secular 
sense, astronomers, mathematicians, and physicians. 5 
The most renowned of these was the philosopher 
and physician, Isaac Al Israili in Kairowan (9th to 
10th cent.), whose philosophic writings are entirely 
free from religious tendencies. 

In conjunction with the first factor we find the second, 
which was of a much more serious character, as it 
concerned the religious convictions of the masses. 
The existence of God is as much a postulate in Islam 
as in Judaism, but the indefinite nature of the funda- 
mental dogmas of the former left the minds of the 
believers unsatisfied and depressed. Now this reveals 
an immense contrast between Judaism and Islam. 
Whilst the theology of the former developed through- 
out homogeneously on the basis of the Bible, leaving 
metaphysical questions entirely outside scholastic dis- 
cussion, the full energy of the Jewish mind was allowed 
to fasten itself exclusively on the minutiae of religious 
practice. This process would probably not have been 
disturbed, or, in other words, Judaism would never 
have developed a religious philosophy, had it not been 
for the friction with Mohammedan theology. The 
latter ran much less smoothly. Islam had to fight 
its way from the outset. When its existence was 
assured, expansion by peaceful or bellicose means 
became one of its first duties. The forcible union of 
heterogeneous races and interests under one religious 
banner had its unavoidable consequences. By the 
combination of political, racial, and religious circum- 
stances deep schisms were produced, and wide differ- 


ences arose in the conception of the nature of God and 
His relations to man. 

This led irresistibly to metaphysical speculations. 
These, however, were not pursued in anything like a 
systematic fashion till the writings of Greek philo- 
sophers, notably Plato and Aristotle, had been made 
accessible to the Mohammedan theologians. Philo- 
sophy called to the aid of religion produced the aid 
of Kaldm (speculative theology), and a class of theo- 
logians who styled themselves Mutakcdlims. The 
latter found themselves compelled to supplement 
the teachings of the Koran by philosophic demon- 
strations of the existence of God, His attributes and 
character as Creator and Governor of the universe. 
They were, of course, unable to remove the stumbling- 
block of the Aristotelian theory of the eternity of 
matter, but they found an outlet by reverting to the 
Greek school of the Atomists, declaring the atom to 
have been created by God. In further adopting the 
Neo-Platonian theory of the emanation of spheres, 
they constructed a universe of the same astronomical 
aspect as the Ptolemaean system of planetary spheres. 

This state of things also reacted on Judaism. The 
Karaite sect saw in the Kalam a convenient means of 
filling the gap left by their rejection of Rabbinic tra- 
dition. It even caused unrest among the Rabbanites, 
and threatened to taint the simple belief in the paternal 
government of God and His all-embracing providence, 
with scepticism. Positive evidence of this scepticism 
is given by Sasdyah, the oldest Jewish scholastic, in 
the introduction to his philosophic work on Creeds 
and Beliefs in the following words : 6 ' What in- 
duced me to write this book was that I watched 


many people in their beliefs and persuasions. Some 
of them arrived at the truth and became gladly con- 
scious of it. Others arrive at the truth, too, but are 
unconvinced and not free from doubt, and cannot 
therefore possess it. Others seize upon something 
real, which they take for truth, retain what is vain, 
and cast away what is profitable. Others adopt a 
view for a time, and exchange it as soon as they find 
a flaw in it for something else, etc.' In other words 
Saadyilh saw that the only way to save Judaism from 
the dangers of the Kalam was to render the latter 
subservient to the former. One of the first results of 
this procedure is his definition of belief, which he in- 
terprets as ' a notion arising in the soul with regard to 
a subject the true nature of which has been recog- 
nised.' 7 To put an a posteriori belief in the place 
of an a priori one, is following the method of philo- 
sophic speculation. Saadyah is thus the first of Jewish 
Rabbanite Mutakallims, or (as they styled themselves) 

These first steps led to further developments as well 
as complications, and the dangers which threatened 
Judaism increased. Saadyah had scarcely passed 
away, when there arose in the East the greatest philo- 
sophic genius the Mohammedan world had pro- 
duced, the famous Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Being an 
Aristotelian pure and simple, he openly taught the 
eternity of matter. Avicenna's authority as physician 
and philosopher was so great that his works were 
eagerly studied by Jews, especially in all those points 
which did not clash with Biblical doctrines. A Spanish 
Jew, Bahya b. Bakudah, then entered the lists in de- 
fence of his faith in a work styled The Duties of the 


Hearts. The book is an ethical and devout exposition 
of the Jewish religion, in which we find a religious 
philosophy, religion predominating over philosophy. 
In the latter Bahya follows Saadyah, maintaining the 
usual arguments of the existence of God and the eman- 
ation of the universe. 

Such was the position of Judaism in the middle of 
the eleventh century. From within it was assailed 
by the Karaites, whose literary activity had reached 
its apogee. From within it was overgrown with Neo- 
Platonian and semi -Aristotelian philosophy, which 
threatened to suffocate it. Aristotelism, however, 
had also begun to undermine the Mohammedan faith, 
and was fiercely attacked by theologians. The begin- 
ning of this reaction dates from the time of Saadyah, 
when Al Ash'ari, a prominent freethinking Mutakallim 
(of the school of the Mutazila), suddenly forsook his 
attitude for more orthodox opinions. His work was 
continued and completed with great thoroughness by 
Al Ghazali, who, in the middle of the eleventh century, 
composed (among many others) his great works, The 
Aims of Philosophers* The Destruction of Philosophy, 
and The Revival of the Science of Religion. While he 
wrote in the East, a contemporary of his, the learned 
and bigoted Ibn Hazm, took up the cudgels of his 
faith in Spain as an acrimonious critic of the Jewish 
interpretation of the Bible. 

Rabbinic Judaism was thus assailed by three power- 
ful enemies, viz. Aristotelian philosophy, Moham- 
medan theologians (both Mutazilite and orthodox), and 
Karaites. A situation was created full of dramatic 
tension. Almost exactly a hundred years after Bahya 
there arose, also in Spain, the man who perceived 


the weak spots in the combination of the Jewish re- 
ligion with a heterogeneous philosophy, and boldly 
ventured to save the former from all three enemies at 
the same time. This man was the poet Judah Halle vi. 
In order to prepare himself for his task he carefully 
studied the writings of his foes, and learnt to distin- 
guish points antagonistic to his faith from those which 
were either innocuous, or even useful for his own 
purposes. Otherwise he was so far removed from 
prejudice against scientific research that the Ptolomaean 
structure of the universe, which had a firm hold over 
the world, was adopted by him without demur. 

What he combated was the axiom of the eternity 
of matter and the Neo-Platonian theory of the emana- 
tion of the world from spheres. But whilst refuting 
its great representative, Ibn Sina, he is impressed by 
his psychology. He criticizes Islam, but at the same 
time falls under the influence of Al Ghazali, 9 and were 
we to sum up Judah Hallevi's doctrines in one sen- 
tence, we should find them almost identical with Al 
Ghazali's, viz. a philosophic scepticism in favour of 
a priori belief. It is more than probable that he re- 
ceived his first impetus to write his book from the 
famous Moslim theologian. 

Judah Hallevi's philosophic word, written in Arabic, is 
known by the name Kitdb Al Khazari. 10 The sensation 
it created in Jewish circles was so great that not more 
than thirty years after its publication it was rendered 
into Hebrew by Judah b. Tabbon, the oldest Hebrew 
translator. Its fame is further evidenced by the 
fact that somewhat later a second Hebrew version was 
undertaken by Isaac b. Judah Cardinal. 11 There also 
exists a series of commentaries, of which more later on. 


So foreign sounding a title as Al Khazari demands 
a few words of explanation. The book is written in 
the form of a dialogue between the King of the Khazars 
and a Jewish Rabbi. 12 The conversion of the king 
and people of the Khazars to Judaism was not only 
a historical fact, but furnished an excellent fulcrum 
for a discussion on religious topics. Nowhere was this 
conversion better remembered than among Spanish 
Jews, because it was to them that the only authentic 
news of this important event had been conveyed. 13 
The author manipulated this fact with extraordinary 
skill. Whilst the Jews were dispersed and degraded 
among the nations and the Jewish faith assailed by 
the followers of its daughter religions and by an un- 
believing philosophy, their despised faith won over a 
king and his people, so powerful, that they proved 
invincible to the armies of the Persians and Arabs. 
The author's object is much more pointedly expressed 
in the other title of the book which, strangely enough, 
was overlooked by the Hebrew translators, and for this 
reason remained unknown to most students of the 
book. This title runs : Book of Argument and De- 
monstration in Aid of the Despised Faith. 1 * 

This title not only reveals the polemical character 
of the book, but also the author's strong feeling on 
the subject. If the conversational form elevates the 
tone above dry reasoning, the choice of the royal de- 
bater adds piquancy to the situation. He is more 
than a mere querist who seeks instruction. Not having 
been reared in the Jewish belief, his attitude towards 
Rabbinic tradition is critical and far from reverent. 
The careful reader of the book cannot fail to observe 
that the king's acceptance of Judaism, with all it im- 


plies, does not take place till the discussion on cere- 
monial Judaism is ended. At the end of the Third 
Part the king says : ' Thou hast much gratified 
me, and strengthened my belief in tradition.' These 
words form a complete contrast to his attitude prior 
to his conversion. Having brought his interview with 
the philosopher to a conclusion, he decides to consult 
a Christian and a Moslim, but to ignore the Jews, on 
account of ' their degraded condition and small num- 
bers. 5 The two former having failed to convince him, 
he only reluctantly sends for the Rabbi, and treats 
him rather contemptuously during nearly the whole 
of the first part of their conversation. 

If we now ask why the king, in spite of his prejudice, 
allows the Rabbi not only to speak, but also to con- 
tinue speaking, we find the answer in the opening words 
of the latter. Whilst his two immediate predecessors 
had commenced by stating their belief in one God and 
the creation of the world, the Rabbi takes all this for 
granted, and at once professes his belief in the God of 
the patriarchs, the miraculous deliverance of the chil- 
dren of Israel from Egypt, and the mission of Moses 
and the prophets. The author evidently wishes to 
convey that the abstract theology of the Christian 
scholar and the Moslim doctor cannot be constructed 
without a metaphysical element, whilst the creed of 
the Rabbi is based on the traditional history of various 
revelations which, on account of their miraculous 
character, render the existence of God a postulate. 
His religious persuasion, therefore, turns on two 
pivots : 

1. Direct revelation of God to the patriarchs, Moses, 
and the prophets ; 2. Uninterrupted tradition of the 


divine guidance of the people, handed down by Moses 
to the prophets, and from them to later generations, 
this tradition embracing both the history of the Israel - 
itish people and the law. 

We thus arrive at a more concise description of the 
book, viz. defence of traditional Judaism against 
assailants from without and within. This twofold 
view is clearly intimated in the very first sentence, 
in which the author speaks of the ' attacks of philo- 
sophers and followers of other religions, and also against 
[Jewish] sectarians who attacked the rest of Israel.' 
A considerable portion of the Third Part is devoted 
to the defence of the Talmud. The obligation of the 
Karaites to recognize Rabbinic tradition is intimated 
in one of the earliest speeches of the Rabbi, who refers 
the king to the exodus from Egypt, which was a public 
event. ' I answered you,' he says, ' as was fitting, and is 
fitting for the whole of Israel, who knew these things 
first from personal experience, and afterwards through 
uninterrupted tradition which is equal to experience ' 
(i. 25). 

In the same speech the author introduces a new 
element of great importance. This is the ' Divine 
Influence ' (oTamr aVilahl) which is embodied in 
chosen individuals from Adam downwards. The 
' Divine Influence ' is not quite identical with the 
ruah haqqodesh of the Agada, otherwise the author 
would have employed this term as a technical one. 
This amr is evidently of Neo-Platonian character, and 
a reflex of the Philonian Logos. 15 The difference 
between the two is mainly this, that whilst the Logos 
is applied to the universe, the function of Judah Hal- 
levi's amr is confined to the Israelitish people. It 


is a kind of intermediary between God and those select 
persons of patriarchal and Israelitish ages who were 
worthy of receiving it, without being able to control 
its energy. 

The reader of the book cannot fail to observe the 
sketchy character of the First Part, which scarcely 
does more than lay down the leading ideas of the work, 
not in complete discourse, but in casual conversation. 
Even in the midst of it (paragr. 68) the king has not 
made up his mind whether to continue his intercourse 
with the Rabbi or not. Having been furnished with 
a clue to the interpretation of his dream, viz. ' to 
seek to do deeds pleasing to the Creator, he is finally 
converted to the faith of his instructor. 

The beginning of the Second Part is, therefore, 
again historical, and relates how the king and his 
Vezier were secretly converted, and gradually con- 
verted the whole people. The author then touches 
upon the wars waged by the Persians and Arabs with 
the Khazars, whom they were unable to subdue, 
historical facts borne out by authors of various 

The Rabbi is now formally appointed instructor to 
the king in all branches of the theory and practice of 
Judaism. He first lectures to his royal pupil on the 
divine attributes as expressed in the various appella- 
tions of God, and explains that the Biblical anthro- 
pomorphisms should be taken metaphorically. This 
lecture is, in reality, delivered for the benefit of Moham- 
medan theologians who, following the example of the 
Koran, interpreted all Biblical anthropomorphisms 
literally, and imputed pagan tendencies to Judaism. 
No adequate Jewish rejoinder had up till then been made 


to Ibn Hazm's bitter criticism of such doctrines which 
were considered due to the corruptions and forgeries by 
Rabbinic authorities. An indirect refutation of Moham- 
med's divine mission is to be found in Judah' Hallevi's 
assertion that every true prophet prophesied either 
in Palestine or concerning it. He rather skilfully alludes 
to the legend of Mohammed's ascension to heaven 
from Jerusalem, a legend based on an ambiguous 
verse in the Koran. 51 a This leads to a dissertation on 
the greatness of the Holy Land which, as is shown 
in a lengthy mathematical exposition, forms the geo- 
graphical starting-point of the Sabbath. The Rabbi, 
then, explains the symbolical meaning of the sacrifices 
and the tent of the Covenant. Subsequently he inserts 
an explanation of the verses Isaiah lii. 13 sqq., refer- 
ring ' my servant ' to Israel. Although he does not 
say so expressly, it appears that he endeavoured to 
oppose the Christian interpretation of this passage. 
It is probably not merely by accident that the author 
takes this opportunity of stating his opinions on ascetic 
life, which just at that time was much in vogue among 
Christians and Moslims. Man, he says, can only 
approach God by fulfilling His commands, but not by 
mere humility and voluntary degradation. The Jewish 
ritual code is arranged to regulate the life of the pious, but 
excessive abstemiousness is not piety. The observance \ 
of the Sabbath is tantamount to an acknowledgment T 
of the existence of God and the creation of the world, I 
and therefore more God -pleasing than monastic se- \ 

Another criticism of Christianity may also be read 
between the lines of the remark, that the Israelites 
did not derive their high station from Moses, but he 


from them. They were not called ' People of Moses,' 
but ' People of God.' Probably in connexion with 
the foregoing he, somewhat sarcastically, depicts the 
cant of the heavenward gaze and of outward contrition 
(56). Not these are required, but pure thoughts and 
corresponding actions. The laws of purity are next 
discussed, and not without a certain amount of ra- 
tionalism (60). This discussion leads to a kind of 
survey of the scientific pursuits incumbent upon the 
members of the Synhedrium (66). Finally, the Hebrew 
language forms the topic of a dissertation, and throws 
an interesting light on the practice of employing Arab 
metre for Hebrew poetry. 

The Third Part is devoted to a refutation of 
Karaism. By way of introduction the author describes 
the daily life of a pious Jew, idealizing even the most 
trivial needs of existence. He points out that where 
the same institutions are found among Jews and Gen- 
tiles, the latter lack the ethical factor which ennobles 
the former. As an instance of this he hints at circum- 
cision as practised among Moslims. The Christian 
exchange of Sabbath for Sunday is considered any- 
thing but an improvement on the Jewish day of rest 
(1-9). The author then symbolises the phylacteries 
and fringes, and comments on the Rabbinic recom- 
mendation of the 'hundred daily blessings' (11). 
This is fittingly supplemented by an exposition of the 
daily morning prayer (10). The perverse doctrine of 
the Karaites is alluded to in another parable, which 
culminates in the sentence that it applies to the ob- 
stinate and those who reject the words of the sages 
(21). The details of the commandments cannot be 
fixed by speculative reasoning (22). By favouring the 


latter method the Karaites follow dualists, material- 
ists, worshippers of spirits, and pagans (23). With- 
out tradition it would be impossible to read the 
text of the Bible correctly, or deal with the different 
readings, much less properly appreciate the commands 
laid down in it (24). For Rabbanites tradition is a 
source of comfort and peace of mind, whilst the Karaites 
are always in doubt and cannot help adopting certain 
Rabbinic traditions (34-38). The author then gives 
an exposition of the words (Deut. xiii. 1 ) : ' Thou shalt 
not add thereto, nor diminish from it,' chiefly in con- 
nexion with the calculation of the feast of Pentecost 
(40, 41) and the laws of retaliation, ritual purity, sab- 
bath, etc. (46-63). By the statement that schism marks 
the beginning of the decay of a religion the author 
probably not only means Karaism, but also hints at 
the damage done to Islam by the numerous sects of 
the latter. In explaining the origin of Karaism the 
author reproduces the anecdote told in the Talmud 
(Kiddushin, fol. 66 vo.), which discloses the fact that 
the first split was of political rather than religious 
nature. This offers an interesting parallel to the 
Shiite split in Islam, which was also political in the 
first instance. In reproducing the passage of the 
Talmud (Haglgah, fol. 14 vo.) the author endeavours 
to impress the reader with the dangers of an indiscreet 
study of metaphysics. A survey of the Rabbinic 
authorities ends in enthusiastic praise of the com- 
prehensiveness, conciseness and beauty of the Mishnah. 
' Only he,' exclaims the Rabbi, * is hostile to it who 
does not know it, and never endeavoured to study it.' 
The king, however, is less enthusiastic, and severely 
criticizes the way in which the sages draw conclusions 


from detached verses, as well as Talmudic dialectics. 
In answer to this criticism the Rabbi points out that 
such detached verses are only used as a fulcrum for 
regulations alien to such verses. It is illustrated by 
the so-called ' Seven Noahide Laws,' which are based 
on a verse of narrative character (Gen. ii. 16). 

In the beginning of the Fourth Part the author dis- 
cusses the names of God, viz. the Tetragrammaton and 
Elohim, thus supplementing the exposition of the divine 
attributes given in the second part. To this is added a 
twofold explanation of the term ' Glory of God.' In 
his discussion of Biblical anthropomorphism the author 
keeps in mind the attitude of Moslim theologians towards 
this question. Mohammed had already found a flaw 
in it, and never describes God as c Rock ' or ' Well.' 
He cannot, however, do without the minor form of 
anthropomorphism, equipping God with hands, and 
describing Him as writing, sitting on his throne, etc. 
The freedom which Jews took with anthropomorphic 
expressions appeared to Moslims as leanings towards 
paganism, and Judah Hallevi had every reason to 
explain the matter broadly, and to affirm repeatedly 
that such objectionable expressions should be taken as 
mere figures of speech. ' The prophets,' he says, ' saw 
the divine world with their mind's eye ; they beheld a 
sight which harmonised with their own imagination. 
Whatever they wrote down was endowed with the same 
attributes as they would have seen in them in reality.' 
Man is incapable of expressing purely spiritual matters 
otherwise than by means of metaphors, although 
philosophers refuse to recognise this (4-5). Religion as 
constructed by philosophers has no other aim than to 
describe God, just as one would describe the position of 


the earth. God does neither good nor evil, and the 
attribute of Creator can be applied to him but meta- 
phorically. In opposing speculative religion to re- 
vealed, the author's aim is the refutation of the 
Mutakallims, whose mouthpiece he had made the 
philosopher in the beginning of the book (13). The 
author now proceeds to explain that to show the superi- 
ority of revealed religion over a speculative one it is not 
necessary to revert to the Mutakallims, but that the 
struggle was exemplified in the patriarch Abraham. 
To him was ascribed the famous Sefer Jesirdh ('Book of 
Creation') which, in Judah Halle vi's opinion, con- 
tained the results of the metaphysical speculations in 
which the patriarch indulged in the earlier period of his 
life. Judah Hallevi never doubted Abraham's authorship 
of the book which marks the beginning of Jewish mystic 
literature, and it is but natural that he took an oppor- 
tunity of setting forth his attitude towards the Cabbalah, 
to which he ascribed an equally great antiquity. He 
accepted it conditionally, just as he did astrology. 
He saw in the Book Jesirdh a relic of ancient natural 
science, being quite unaware of its Neo -Pythagorean 
character. In view of his somewhat theological and 
mystic theory concerning the origin of the Hebrew 
alphabet, it is not strange that he finds certain com- 
binations followed by certain effects. In the end he 
overcomes^the perplexity, which the book caused him, 
by pointing out that Abraham, when seeking for the 
truth, was obliged to indulge in these speculations. 
But he abandoned them as soon as God had revealed 
Himself to him. It is therefore quite intelligible that 
Judah Hallevi makes the Book Jesirdh itself responsible 
for its statements which he declares as unsatisfactory as 


the speculations of philosophers. In order to show 
by way of contrast the value of natural science which is 
based on the law and handed down by tradition, he 
gives a sketch of the Rabbinic regulations concerning 
the calendar, and also details the symptoms by which it 
may be known whether an animal is lawful to be eaten 
or not. 

The Fifth Part is devoted to an extensive criticism 
of the Kalam of the Mutakallims as well as that of the 
Karaites. The king confesses that the doubts which 
the early conversations with the philosopher and his 
two successors had left in his soul have not been entirely 
removed. He therefore desires to couple the benefits of 
tradition with some real knowledge. The Rabbi con- 
sents, but declines to follow the method of the Karaites, 
who ' climbed up to metaphysics without any inter- 
mediate steps.' His plan is to dissect for his pupil the 
organization of the physical and transcendental worlds, 
and to explain the nature of the human soul. This is to 
be supplemented by the arguments on future life, divine 
providence and omnipotence. One can easily see that 
the latter items are added as accessories of the former, 
having no place in the Kalam, and therefore representing 
the author's own ideas. The exposition of the develop- 
ment of the universe takes the Neo-Platonian form 
of emanation, but is step for step accompanied by the 
author's criticism. The existence of matter is here taken 
for granted,though the Aristotelian theory of its eternity 
is alluded to in the remark that it is deprived of quantity 
and quality. Aristotle himself, he says, admitted that it 
never put in an appearance unless accompanied by form. 
Now here Judah Hallevi seems to cast a censuring 
glance at those Jewish philosophers and scientists, such 


as perhaps his elder compatriot Abraham b. Hiyya, 
and others who argued Aristotelian philosophy into 
verses of the Bible. 'Some people,' he says, believe 
that the ' water ' mentioned in the beginning of the Book 
of Genesis stands for ' matter ' whilst ' darkness,' and 
( tohu waboJiu ' signify the absence of form. Whilst, 
however, casting doubt on this theory, he does not 
completely repudiate it. The revolution of the upper- 
most sphere and all those below it, caused by the divine 
will, wrought a change in the ether filling the moon 
sphere. This resulted in the production of the spheres of 
the four elements the mingling of which gave rise to all 
things in nature. The difference between philosophers 
and believers was, that according to the former all this 
arose by chance, whilst the latter ascribed the giving of 
forms to the divine will (6). To illustrate the pre- 
meditated creation of the world by God, the author 
intercalates an exposition of Ps. civ. in which he sees 
a poetic reproduction of the first chapter of the Book 
of Genesis. 

This leads to a discussion on the soul which, according 
to Jehudah Halle vi, is but another name for the divine 
wisdom employed in the construction of the organic, or 
living beings. But in order to satisfy the king's desire 
to have this subject treated philosophically, he gives him 
an abstract of Ibn Sma's system of psychology, fre- 
quently quoting his authority almost verbatim (12). 16 
Ibn Sina's definition of the soul is, of course, quite 
Aristotelian, 17 but is already to be found in Isaac Israeli's 
Book of Definitions. 18 It is not, however, to be assumed 
that Jehudah Halle vi simply plagiarised Ibn Sma. This 
was hardly possible at a time when the latter was so 
widely read. In a later paragraph (19) he refers to this 



discussion as ' assertions of other people,' evidently 
finding it unnecessary to mention his authority by name, 
but he was far from adopting his views. Seeing that 
the king shows signs of being impressed by their theories, 
the Rabbi warns him not to be entangled by them. 
Much doubt, he says, attaches to the four elements, 
their combination into compound bodies, and their 
subsequent dissolution into the primary state. How 
could philosophers teach the combination of things 
from the elements, since they believed in the eternity of 
matter, and that no man ever arose otherwise than by 
propagation. The whole problem becomes easily in- 
telligible by placing oneself on the basis of revelation. 
According to the Torah it was God who created the uni- 
verse with all that is therein, and there is no need to 
assume intermediary causes, and combinations of 
elements. If the creation of the world be made an 
axiom, all that is difficult to understand, becomes easy. 
The theory of emanation is open to grave doubts, and 
there is no agreement between the different schools of 
philosophers on the majority of these doctrines whinh 
stand even beneath the level of the Book Jesirdh (14). 19 
The author, then, proceeds to show that the Mutakal- 
lims, and following them, the Karaites adapted Aristote- 
lian ideas to their own theological needs, by simply re- 
placing the eternity of matter by creation. The whole 
system of the Kalam 20 is, then arranged in ten para- 
graphs. If the world is created, there must be a creator 
who is without beginning and end. He cannot be 
corporeal, nor can his life, knowledge, and will, be any- 
thing but absolutely universal and eternal. His attri- 
butes are the result of his essence, and are not subject 
to any change whatsoever. 


With this the number of problems to be discussed is 
not, however, exhausted. The treatment is not less of 
polemical nature, as it stood in the front-rank of Moslim 
thought. The author could not help stating his opinion 
on the attitude which Jews should occupy towards 
the Mohammedan interpretation of this question. It is, 
however, necessary to give a brief sketch of the principal 
points of this matter. 

The Mutakallims had been confronted with the ques- 
tion, whether the actions of man were the result of his 
own will, or that of God. Orthodox Moslims followed 
the teachings of the Koran, which strongly inclines 
towards limiting man's own free will almost to vanishing 
point. It was in Mohammed's interest to confine the 
responsibility of his followers to the smallest possible 
compass. Allah, he taught, guides him whom he desires, 
and leads astray him whom he desires. Man's actions, 
as well as his fate are written in the Book. Early 
Mohammedan theologians drew conclusions from these 
teachings, which led to gross anthropomorphism. This 
aroused the protest of a class of more enlightened 
philosophers of the school of the Mu'tazila. In their 
endeavour to restore the balance between thought and 
belief, and to define sharply the idea of the unity of 
God, they first of all negatived the so-termed eternal 
attributes. If an attribute, they taught, were as eternal 
as God, He could no longer be the only unique being. 
Being eternal, God is the essence of His attributes, 
viz. omniscience, will, omnipotence, goodness, justice, 
etc. If the actions of man depended entirely on divine 
promptings, true justice would not exist, as the pious 
must be good, the wicked must be bad. This doctrine 
became so popular that it even promised to become for 


a time the guiding principle of the authorities of state. 
A reaction, however, soon set in, when Al Ash'ari, as 
mentioned before, began to teach that man was master 
of his actions, only under the control of divine omnipo- 
tence. His disciple Al Grhazali, however, returned to the 
old doctrines which he rendered prevalent all over the 
Sunnite world. 

It was no doubt his studies of Al Ghazali's writings 
which influenced Judah Hallevi to combat his hostile 
attitude towards man's birthright, which is so stren- 
uously upheld in ancient Rabbinic literature ' By the 
measure with which man metes, shall he be measured.' ~ 
1 He who desires to be impure, finds the ways open : 
he who desires to be pure, finds heavenly assistance.' 22 
These are two popular sayings which express clearly 
that man is responsible for his own actions. Since 
the Mu'tazilites went too far in the opposite direction, 
Judah Hallevi was obliged to steer a middle course, 
and keep somewhat near Al Ash'ari's theory. With this 
he combined Saadyah's doctrine that God's prescience 
does not exclude potential factors. 23 He endeavoured 
to solve the problem by placing a chain of intermedi- 
ary causes between the Prime Cause and the final object 
of man's desire. Everything that happens, he says, 
stands in relation to the Prime Cause in a twofold 
form. An instance of the first is offered in the consti- 
tution of nature which cannot be the result of accident, 
but must be the work of a creator who is as conscious of 
his actions as he is wise. An instance of the second 
form is furnished by the burning of a beam by fire. In 
the latter case both the agent and its object are material 
substances. From both forms we gain three classes of 
causes : Firstly The divine causes which have their 


origin direct in the divine will ; Secondly the natural 
causes which derive their origin from other, viz. pre- 
paratory causes ; Thirdly the accidental causes which 
arise from other intermediaries, not in consequence 
of the order of nature or any preparation, but quite 
accidentally. Human free will comes under the category 
of intermediary causes, leading back to the Prime 
Cause. Without free choice, praise or blame would be 
impossible, because one cannot blame a natural or 
accidental agent for any harm done. Examples of this 
are a child or a sleeping person. If everything that 
happens came direct from the Prime Cause, it would be 
a new creation in every case. The pious would be no 
better off than the wicked, because both would only do 
that for which they are created. If man applies his 
energies to the intermediary causes, whilst putting his 
trust in God, he will suffer no loss. He, however, who 
courts disaster acts against the words of the Bible : 
You shall not tempt the Lord (Deut. vi. 16). 

After these preliminary remarks Judah Hallevi 
frames his system in the following six axioms : 
1. Recognition of the Prime Cause. 2. Belief in inter- 
mediary causes. 3. God gives the best possible form 
to every substance. 4. There is a graduation among 
organic beings as well as among mankind ; the follower 
of the divine law occupying a higher degree than the 
heathen. 5. If the hearers of reproof pause to consider, 
they are near repentance. 6. Man has power to do or 
to avoid evil in matters under his control. It is, however, 
best to refer more important events in life to direct 
intervention of God. 

Judah Hallevi's ethical code (of which the foregoing 
forms a part) is further supplemented by a reference to 


the three first paragraphs of the decalogue. They form 
an introduction to his description of the life of the true 
worshipper (iii. 11), who 'speaks and thinks nothing 
without confessing to himself that an eye is near which 
sees him,' etc. This is still more definitely expressed 
in the words that the Divine spirit is with every born 
Israelite who is pure of action, innocent of heart, and 
upright of mind. 

It is hardly surprising that the author's social views 
stand also in close connexion with religion, although 
they are externally based on Plato's Politics. 2 * United 
prayer is more effectual than an individual one. He 
who lives in a community enjoys safety at small expense. 
It is the duty of the individual to incur sufferings and 
even death for the sake of the common weal. Political 
duties are, he says, intimated in the Biblical regulations 
on tithes and imposts. In a brief summing up at the 
end of the book the author touches on reward in after- 
life, the sufferings of the pious, and the limits of meta- 
physical research. Finally, he expresses the desire to 
emigrate to Palestine. The king obj ects to this, adducing 
various reasons for so doing. Now this discussion 
touches a real incident in the author's life. When it 
became known that he wished to travel, a friend wrote 
dissuading him from the undertaking. In a poetic 
reply Judah Halle vi overruled his friend's objections. 
The concluding verses, however, stand in such intimate 
connexion with the leading idea of our book that they 
deserve to be quoted : ' See, yea, see my friend, and avoid 
pitfalls, nets and snares. Let not Greek wisdom 
entice thee, which has no fruit but only blossoms. Its 
upshot i s that never earth was stretched and the tents 
of the firmament never expanded. No beginning there 


was for the work of creation, nor is there an end for the 
renovation of the moons. Listen to the misleading 
words of its adepts built upon frail foundation, but 
thou wilt turn away with a heart empty and faint, and a 
mouth full of dross and thorns. Why should I seek 
crooked ways, and forsake the mother of paths ? ' 2S It 
is not impossible that such poetic correspondence im- 
pelled Judah Hallevi to write the concluding chapter of 
this book. 

This is not the only poem in which the author re-echoes 
his dislike of metaphysics. The last verse in a Piyyut 
which to be is found in the liturgy of the second day of 
New Year (Spanish rite) reproduces Ben Sira's warning 
against metaphysical speculation almost literally. 26 

A curious feature of the book is the comparatively 
large number (seven cases) of incorrect quotations from 
the Bible. This is not so much due to carelessness as 
to the habit of quoting from memory. In one case 
(1 Chron. xxviii. 9) the erroneous quotation has even 
been repeated by the translator, who evidently did not 
take the trouble to verify the same. Judah Hallevi, 
however, is not alone in this, as other authors were 
equally lax. The passages in question are notified in 
the footnotes. 

In the earlier part of this sketch I endeavoured to 
outline the relation in which Judah Hallevi stood to his 
predecessors. I have now only to say a word or two on 
his position with regard to his successors. It is rather 
doubtful whether the slight coincidences to be found in 
Joseph b. Saddiq's Microcosm (composed about 1145) 
are really borrowed from the Khazari, as the late 
Professor Kaufmann endeavoured to demonstrate. 27 
The same holds good with regard to Abraham b. Ezra, 


although the late Dr. Rosin was of different opinion. 2741 . 
Kaufmann has better grounds on which to found his 
list of passages in which he shows how far Abraham b. 
Dawud, of Toledo, who composed his treatise, The Lofty 
Greed, in 1160 was dependent on the Khazari. 2 * 
Professor W. Bacher has called attention to the con- 
trast between the former title and the terms 4 Despised 
Faith ' in the official title of the Khazari. 29 Abraham 
b. Dawud's intimate acquaintance with the latter work 
cannot, indeed, be doubted. Being, however, a con- 
firmed Aristotelian, he regarded the Khazari as a 
philosophic failure. ' It is not unusual,' he says, 30 ' in 
our days for a person to reflect a little on philosophy, 
but he has not the power to hold two lights in his hands, 
the light of his faith in the right, and the light of philoso- 
phy in his left.' In these words I see an allusion to 
Judah Hallevi, for whom he entertained great veneration, 
and whom he did not wish to criticise openly. He was 
more influenced by the Khazari than he was himself 
aware of. There is even some similarity in the arrange- 
ments of both books. The form of reply to a query 
given to his treatise by Abraham b. Dawud recalls the 
opening passage of the Khazari, but is probably not 
to be taken literally in either case. The importance of 
historic and prophetic tradition is emphasized by 
Abraham b. Dawud 31 scarcely less than by Judah Hallevi. 
The discussion on human free will is placed in both 
books near the end, the whole of the preceding chapters 
serving, as it were, as an introduction to the same. It has 
been completely overlooked, however, that the Lofty 
Creed is also of an apologetical character, defending 
Judaism as it does against the pretensions of Christianity 
and Islam. It is chiefly the charges of the founder of 


the latter,enlarged by Moslim theologians of later periods, 
to the effect that Jews had falsified the Torah, which 
Abraham b. Dawud endeavours to refute at some length. 
The Mohammedan interpretation of Deuteronomy xxxiii. 
2, finds an allusion to Christianity in the word ' Seir,' and 
to Islam in c Paran,' 32 which was believed to be identical 
with Mecca. The purport of this piece of Biblical exegesis 
is that Islam forms the climax in the scale of religions, 
abrogating both Christianity and Judaism. ' Let us,' 
says Abraham b. Dawud, ' distinctly refute the assertion 
of some of the latter class (Moslims) who say that the 
Torah speaks of a prophetic revelation on Mount 
Paran.' 33 In view of this polemical attitude of Abraham 
b. Dawud, it is clear that the title ' Lofty Creed ' has a 
much wider meaning than that alluded to above. 

In his theory of human free will, Abraham b. Dawud 
coincides in many details with Judah Hallevi, but is, on 
the whole, more progressive than the latter, maintaining 
that the factor of potentiality is not excluded even in 
God's prescience. 3 * 

About thirty years later Maimonides' great philo- 
sophical work was published. Most readers will, without 
hesitation, exclaim that Judah Hallevi was completely 
overshadowed by the author of the Guide of the Per- 
plexed. This statement is only correct as applied 
to a certain period, and as far as the masses are 
concerned, but will be modified after an inquiry into the 
matter. Judah's fame as a philosopher was, in the first 
instance, obscured by his own renown as poet. This 
was but natural, as his poetry, especially of the liturgical 
class, appealed to a larger public than did philosophy 
of any kind. There are no such rival claims in Maimonides' 
works, as he is more or less a philosopher in all his 


writings, and even in those on Halakhah. Now from 
the specifically Jewish point of view the Khazari 
is far more satisfactory in its results than the Guide, 
although the latter is a much more imposing work 
and caused a greater sensation, because it sailed down 
the broad stream of the fashionable Aristotelian phil- 
osophy. How much headway could the smaller craft 
make in its endeavour to swim against that stream ? 
It is a mistake to assume that the objection with which 
the Guide met on the part of a number of Eabbis in 
France, Germany, and in the East was merely the out- 
come of narrowmindedness and bigotry. Their protest 
was dictated by a feeling that this method of reasoning 
was heterogeneous to the spirit of the Bible. The Guide 
was meant to provide a homoeopathic cure for what was 
obnoxious in the philosophy of Aristotle, but we cannot 
blame those who did not believe in its curative powers. 
However, grand its structure, profound its thought, and 
instructive its details, its function as a Guide came to an 
end as soon as Aristotelism lost its hold over thinking 

That the Khazari appeared at the right moment is 
evident from the fact that the two Hebrew versions were 
published within seventy years of its publication. 
The second appeared even after the Guide had been 
translated into Hebrew. The last mentioned circum- 
stance may serve as evidence that the Khazari, was by 
no means completely eclipsed by the Guide. Yet the 
controversy about the latter which broke out soon after 
Maimonides' death, undoubtedly hindered the propaga- 
tion of the Khazari, and caused a cessation of its study 
where it was known, which lasted nearly two centuries. 
For the purposes of combating Aristotelism, it naturally 


epitomised its doctrines, and thus invited the reader in- 
directly to the study of the same. For this reason the 
Khazari cannot have been less obnoxious in the eyes of 
the enemies of philosophy than the Guide. 34a This, if 
nothing else, explains the fact that only one copy of the 
Arabic original, written as late as 1463, 35 and a few 
scattered fragments have come down to us. 

Finally, the reaction set in, not only against Aristotel- 
ism, but also against the Guide which, in the opinion of 
some thinkers, did not satisfactorily defend the belief in 
the creation out of nought. In 1328 Shemaryah of Nigri- 
pontes addressed a letter to King Robert, of Anjou, in 
which he criticises the arguments brought forward by 
Maimonides in the thirteenth and nineteenth chapters 
of the second part of the Guide, vowing not to rest until 
he had improved upon them. 'His (Maimonides') 
answers,' he says, c are laid down in the Guide ; I say, 
however that, although he has produced a great work 
and argued against Aristotle and the interpreters of his 
book who maintain that he has proved the eternity of 
the world, his arguments are not satisfactory, and he 
should not have left any doubt as to whether the basis 
of our Law is true or not.' 36 

A more direct proof of the newly awakening popu- 
larity of the Khazari was given when, towards the end 
of the fourteenth century the philosopher, linguist, 
and controversionalist Profet Duran (Efodi) devoted 
his energies to the revival of scientific pursuits. The 
compulsory conversion to Christianity of the Spanish 
Jews directed his gaze to Judah Hallevi's apologetical 
work. In his work on Hebrew Grammar, styled Mdase 
Efod, he alluded to it in the following words : 37 ' An 
intelligent person may feel a strong desire to study 


philosophy and especially physics and metaphysics, 
according to Greek philosophers, and this malady may 
overpower him to such an extent, that he cannot be cured 
from it In order to prevent this danger threatening him 
with destruction I anticipate a remedy for his disease and 
advise him to procure and study the honoured work of 
the famous and learned R. Judah Halle vi which he com- 
posed for the King of the Khazars. He gives it in argu- 
ments against Greek philosophers in so far as they are in 
opposition to the tenets of the divine law. For he 
has striven with true and convincing proofs to pre- 
serve the fundaments of the laws of God. With their 
assistance he has no need to penetrate very deeply into 
this study whilst being saved from the danger of the 
poisonous root which grows in the garden of their 
wisdom, however sweet and pleasant it may appear.' 
Profet Duran gives further evidence of his acquaintance 
with the book by employing one of its characteristic 
phrases in his famous letter addressed to the renegade 
David Bonet Bon Giorno. 38 His attitude towards 
the Khazari appears all the more impartial, as he is the 
author of a commentary on the Guide. 

Whilst Efodi thus strove for the re -awakening of 
independent thought among Jews, his contemporary 
Hisdai Creseas went a step further. In his philosophical 
work, Light of God he not only made a bold front 
against Aristotelism, but he freely criticised Maimonides, 
and endeavoured to modify his teachings. Unlike Judah 
Hallevi he did not take his arguments from the armoury 
of revealed religion, but from that of abstract philosophy. 
For this very reason, and in spite of his greater originality 
as philosopher, his book did not attain the same renown 
as the Khazari. The popularity of the latter was at 


this period so much in the ascendency that about 1420 
Frat Maimon (Solomon b. Menahem) opened a course 
of lectures on it in Provence. His three pupils left 
commentaries on the book, based on these lectures, viz. 
Jacob b. Hayyim (Vidal Ferussol) in 1422 ; Nathanael 
Caspi in 1424, and Solomon Vivas of Lunel in the same 
year. Several copies of each are still in existence. 

The final overthrow of Aristotelian philosophy in the 
sixteenth century gave a new fillip to the study of the 
book. In 1573 Judah Muscato of Mantua composed 
another commentary on it, and two years later Azaryah 
de Rossi, of the same place, alluded to it in the following 
words, ' . . . the book being full of the divine blessing, 
contains true notions which every Jew who is faithful 
to his covenant, is in duty bound to study assiduously, 
to write it on the tablet of the heart of all his children and 
disciples, and to enjoin them : Take heed to thyself that 
thou do not forsake the Levite (Deut. xii. 19).' 40 There 
is, however, one point in which Judah Halle vi proves to 
be the direct forerunner of Maimonides. To the majority 
of Jews the latter is chiefly known as the f ormulator of 
the ' Thirteen Articles of Creed.' Now articles of creed 
in any shape are not of Jewish growth, but are a Mo- 
hammedan contrivance. Moslim theologians supple- 
mented the simple tenets of the Bible by an elaborate 
array of dogmas some of which were exceedingly 
offensive to Jewish readers. They furnished Maimonides 
with models for his own ' Thirteen Articles,' written in 
Arabic, of which short Hebrew abstracts in prose and 
poetry encroached upon the Jewish prayer-book. It is 
easy to see that the general tone of the Articles is that 
of protest partly against the Mut'azilites, partly against 
the insinuations of Moslim theologians. Now in the 


principal Articles Maimonides is anticipated by 
Judah hallevi who was quite as familiar with 
this class of Mohammedan literature. He did not, 
however, find it expedient to formulate Articles from 
the Jewish point of view, perhaps because this was both 
a Mohammedan and Karaite practice. But he speaks 
casually of ' the declaration by which the Jewish 
Confession of Faith becomes perfect, viz. the declaration 
of the Unity of God and His eternity, the provident care 
bestowed on our fathers, and that the Torah originated 
with Him.' We see here the contents of the first, second, 
eighth and ninth of Maimonidian Articles. The prophetic 
power of Moses is for Judah Hallevi no subject of belief, 
but a historical fact for him ; the reward after death 
he not only considers as an old Jewish axiom, but also 
as a direct consequence of the connexion of the pious man 
with the divine influence. Punishment is nothing but 
the refusal of this connexion. Finally, the belief in the 
Messiah is based on prophetic tradition. Now, as is well 
known, Joseph Albo, who flourished in the first half of 
the fifteenth century, reduced the thirteen Maimoni- 
dian Articles of Creed to three, of which two are identical 
with those mentioned by Judah Hallevi, viz., the belief 
in the Unity of God, and the revelation of the Law. 
His acquaintance with the Khazari is beyond doubt, as he 
quotes it. 41 

The Khazari has hitherto been regarded as the oldest 
Jewish polemical work against other religions. This 
is not so. The Cairo Genizah at Cambridge possesses a 
small fragment of an Arabic work by David b. Marwan al 
Muqammas, the Karaite, entitled, Fifty Queries in 
Refutation of Christianity. 42 Judah Hallevi was the 
first Jewish author to challenge Islfim. As he, without 


doubt, wrote his work in Hebrew characters (as did 
nearly all Jewish authors who wrote in Arabic) it 
was accessible but to few non-Jews. Among these was 
Samuel b. Abbas Al Maghrebi, who became converted 
to Islam in 1163, i.e. about twenty years after the 
Khazari had been published. According to a notice at 
the end of the Khazari MS. the above named Ibn Abbas 
wrote a rejoinder to it under the title Book of Refutation 
and Vexation 43 which is also known under the title, The 
Silencing of the Jews** More than a hundred years later, 
another author named Sad b. Mansur Ibn Kammuna 
composed a work entitled, Thorough Investigation of the 
Three Religions. Whether this man was converted to 
Islam, or not, is uncertain. It is, however, probable that 
his conversion was but an apparent one as was the case 
of the many Jews in Moslim countries. 45 At all events 
the name of Mohammed is not mentioned in the usual 
eulogistic way, at the beginning of the work. Stein - 
schneider 46 and Leo Hirschfeld 47 have shown that this 
man was largely dependent on the Khazari, the latter 
scholar giving details of plagiarisms which, to gather 
from the notes to the portion edited, are considerable. 
The work is not a refutation of Judaism, and the tone 
it assumes is rather that of a benevolent outsider. 

To the same author is ascribed a treatise on ' The 
Differences between the Rabbanites and Karaites,' 48 
which Steinschneider 49 considers to be a Karaite inter- 
polation. The matter is of some interest because the 
author, on the strength of one acknowledged honest 
quotation from the Khazari borrows many passages 
without mentioning the source from which they are 
taken. There are certainly no Karaite leanings in his 
professed desire, ' to put a stop to the abusing of the 


sages, by making it clear that they never overstepped 
the bounds of religious zeal, whilst the Karaites went 
very far in blaming, reviling, and ridiculing the sages 
and those who follow them, and treating them as 
heretics.' 50 The tone of the treatise differs throughout 
greatly from that of the ordinary Karaite controversy, 
and shows a similar tendency to impartiality as the work 
mentioned before. There is little reason to deny Sa'd's 
authorship. The fact that the treatise has no title of 
its own, and is styled at the beginning as a maqdla 
(chapter), lends colour to the view that it really is but 
an appendix to the treatise alluded to previously, with 
which it forms one volume. 

There is only a word more to be said on the form 
of the book. At the first glance one might be tempted to 
look upon it as an imitation of Plato's dialogues, or rather 
conversations, and it cannot be denied that this might 
be done without fear of contradiction. It is however, 
noticeable that the early controversial literature of the 
Arabs adopted a similar form. The discussion in 
Al Ghazali's Destruction of Philosophers which approaches 
the Khazari most nearly as to character, also consists 
of questions and replies. The queries are generally intro- 
duced by the phrases, ' If it is said,' or ' If you say,' 
or * If they say ; ' whilst the replies begin : ' The answer 
is,' or ' We say.' It is very likely that this form of dry 
reasoning left Judah Hallevi's poetic genius unsatisfied, 
and he amended it by more dramatic means. The first 
portion of the book in particular is built up with great 
skill. The accounts of the tenets of Christianity and 
Islam are small masterpieces of clear summarising. 
There is not the trace of a sneer at the enemies of the 
author's religion. The way if which the Jewish Rabbi, 



undaunted by the king's gibes, rivets his attention and 
forces him by clever answers to continue the debate is 
truly admirable. The impression which the book made 
on Gentile readers is peculiarly illustrated by the fact 
that no other than Johannes Buxtorf (the son) felt in- 
duced, ' to peruse and then to edit and translate the 
work on account of the excellence and the dignity of 
the argumentation as well as the fame of the author 
and his work among Hebrews.' His edition 51 is preceded 
by a valuable dissertation which embodies the text and 
translation of the two famous ' Khazar Letters.' It is not 
surprising that he finds that ' the book contains much 
that tastes of Jewish superstition and error,but a prudent 
and careful student will know how to steer clear of the 
dangerous reefs.' 

The modern Jewish reader will also meet here and 
there with ideas which are now obsolete, but they inter- 
fere neither with the literary, nor the educational value 
of the book. It forms a complete survey of the com- 
ponent parts of the Jewish religion, discussing its theo- 
logy and ceremonial laws, liturgy, Masorah, and the 
peculiarities of the Hebrew language. It is specially 
instructive to those readers who lack opportunities of 
drawing information from the fountain head, or enter- 
tain erroneous notions of certain religious laws and 
customs. The Gentile reader may learn from it suavity 
of argument and tolerance towards the followers of other 
religions, and perhaps rid himself of prejudices which are 
nearly always but the consequence of defective know- 

An imitation of the Khazari under the title Second 
Cusari, 52 was composed in Hebrew and Spanish by David 
Nieto, Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese congre- 



gation in London (1714). The work, which is likewise 
divided into five parts, contains arguments in support 
of the Rabbinical law. 

To the list of authors influenced by Judah Hallevi's 
book, must finally be added no less an authority than 
Johannes Gottfried Herder. The form of his famous 
work Vom Geist der hebrdischen Poesie 53 he acknow- 
ledges having borrowed from the Khazari in the follow- 
ing words : ' My model in great passages of dialogue 
was not Plato, but the Book Cosri . . .' 


I WAS asked to state what arguments and replies I 
could bring to bear against the attacks of philosophers 
and followers of other religions, and also against [Jewish] 
sectarians who attacked the rest of Israel. This re- 
minded me of something I had once heard concerning 
the arguments of a Rabbi who sojourned with the 
King of the Khazars. The latter, as we know from 
historical records, became a convert to Judaism about 
four hundred years ago. To him came a dream, and it ap- 
peared as if an angel addressed him, saying : ' Thy way 
of thinking is indeed pleasing to the Creator, but not thy 
way of acting.' Yet he was so zealous in the perform- 
ance of the Khazar religion, that he devoted himself 
with a perfect heart to the service of the temple and 
sacrifices. Notwithstanding this devotion, the angel 
came again at night and repeated : c Thy way of think- 
ing is pleasing to God, but not thy way of acting.' This 
caused him to ponder over the different beliefs and 
religions, and finally become a convert to Judaism 
together with many other Khazars. As I found among 
the arguments of the Rabbi, many which appealed to 
me, and were in harmony with my own opinions, I 
resolved to write them down exactly as they had been 
spoken. 1 

When the King of Khazar (as is related) dreamt that 



his way of thinking was agreeable to God, but not his 
way of acting, and was commanded in the same dream 
to seek the God-pleasing work, he inquired of a philo- 
sopher concerning his religious persuasion. The philo- 
sopher replied : There is no favour or dislike in [the 
nature of] God, because He is above desire and inten- 
tion. A desire intimates a want in the person who feels 
it, and not till it is satisfied does he become (so to speak) 
complete. If it remains unfulfilled, he lacks completion. 
In a similar way He is, in the opinion of philosophers, 
above the knowledge of individuals, because the latter 
change with the times, whilst there is no change in God's 
knowledge. He, therefore, does not know thee, much 
less thy thoughts and actions, nor does He listen to thy 
prayers, or see thy movements. If philosophers say 
that He created thee, they only use a metaphor, because 
He is the Cause of causes in the creation of all creatures, 
but not because this was His intention from the begin- 
ning. He never created man. For the world is without 
beginning, and there never arose a man otherwise than 
through one who came into existence before him, in 
whom were united forms, gifts, and characteristics in- 
herited from father, mother, and other relations, besides 
the influences of climate, countries, foods and water, 
spheres, stars and constellations. Everything is re- 
duced to a Prime Cause ; not to a Will proceeding from 
this, but an Emanation from which emanated a second, 
a third, and fourth cause. 

The Cause and the caused are, as thou seest, inti- 
mately connected with one another, their coherence 
being as eternal as the Prime Cause and having no 
beginning. Every individual on earth has his com- 
pleting causes ; consequently an individual with perfect 

PART I 37 

causes becomes perfect, and another with imperfect 
causes remains imperfect, as the negro who is able to 
receive nothing more than the human shape and speech 
in its least developed form. The philosopher, however, 
who is equipped with the highest capacity, receives 
through it the advantages of disposition, intelligence 
and active power, so that he wants nothing to make 
him perfect. Now these perfections exist but in 
abstracto, and require instruction and training to be- 
come practical, and in order that this capacity, with 
all its completeness or deficiencies and endless grades, 
may become visible. In the perfect person a light of 
divine nature, called Active Intellect, is with him, and 
its Passive Intellect is so closely connected therewith 
that both are but one. The person [of such perfection] 
thus observes that he is The Active Intellect himself, 
and that there is no difference between them. His 
organs I mean the limbs of such a person only serve 
for the most perfect purposes, in the most appro - 
riate time, and in the best condition, as if they were 
the organs of the Active Intellect, but not of the 
material and passive Intellect, which used them at 
an earlier period, sometimes well, but more often 
improperly. The Active Intellect, however, is always 
successful. This degree is the last and most longed- 
for goal for the perfect man whose soul, after having 
been purified, has grasped the inward truths of all 
branches of science, has thus become equal to an angel, 
and has found a place on the nethermost step of seraphic 
beings. This is the degree of the Active Intellect, viz. 
that angel whose degree is below the angel who is 
connected with the sphere of the moon. There are 
spiritual forces, detached from matter, but eternal like 


the Prime Cause and never threatened by decay. 
Thus the soul of the perfect man and that Intellect 
become One, without concern for the decay of his body 
or his organs, because he becomes united to the other. 
His soul is cheerful while he is alive, because it enjoys 
the company of Hermes, Asclepios, Socrates, Plato 
and Aristotle ; nay, he and they, as well as every one 
who shares their degree, and the Active Intellect, are 
one thing. This is what is called allusively and approxi- 
mately Pleasure of God. Endeavour to reach it, and 
the true knowledge of things, in order that thy intellect 
may become active, but not passive. Keep just ways 
as regards character and actions, because this will help 
thee to effect truth, to gain instruction, and to become 
similar to this Active Intellect. The consequence of 
this will be contentment, humility, meekness, and 
every other praiseworthy inclination, accompanied by 
the veneration of the Prime Cause, not in order to 
receive favour from it, or to divert its wrath, but solely 
to become like the Active Intellect in finding the truth, 
in describing everything in a fitting manner, and in 
rightly recognizing its basis. These are the character- 
istics of the [Active] Intellect. If thou hast reached 
such disposition of belief, be not concerned about the 
forms of thy humility or religion or worship, or the 
word or language or actions thou employest. Thou 
mayest even choose a religion in the way of humility, 
worship, and benediction, for the management of thy 
temperament, thy house and [the people of thy] 
country, if they agree to it. Or fashion thy religion 
according to the laws of reason set up by philosophers, 
and strive after purity of soul. In fine, seek purity of 
heart in which way thou art able, provided thou hast 

PART I 39 

acquired the sum total of knowledge in its real essence ; 
then thou wilt reach thy goal, viz. the union with this 
Spiritual, or rather Active Intellect. Maybe he will 
communicate with thee or teach thee the knowledge 
of what is hidden through jtiiue .dreams and positive 

2. Said to him the Khazari : Thy words are con- 
vincing, yet they do not correspond to what I wish to 
find. I know already that my soul is pure and that 
my actions are calculated to gain the favour of God. 
To all this I received the answer that this way of action 
does not find favour, though the intention does. There 
must no doubt be a way of acting, pleasing by its very 
nature, but not through the medium of intentions. If 
this be not so, why, then, do Christian and Moslim, who 
divide the inhabited world between them, fight with 
one another, each of them serving his God with pure 
intention, living either as monks or hermits, fasting and 
praying ? For all that they vie with each other in 
committing murders, believing that this is a most pious 
work and brings them nearer to God. They fight in 
the belief that paradise and eternal bliss will be their 
reward. It is, however, impossible to agree with both. 

3. The Philosopher replied: The philosophers' 
creed knows no manslaughter, as they only cultivate 
the intellect. 

4. Al Khazari : What could be more erroneous, in 
the opinion of the philosophers, than the belief that 
the world was created in six days, or that the Prime 
Cause spoke with mortals, not to mention the philo- 
sophic doctrine, which declares the former to be above 
knowing details. In addition to this one might expect 
the gift of prophecy quite common among philosophers, 


considering their deeds, their knowledge, their re- 
searches after truth, their exertions, and their close 
connexion with all things spiritual, also that wonders, 
miracles, and extraordinary things would be reported 
of them. Yet we find that true visions are granted to 
persons who do not devote themselves to study or to 
the purification of their souls, whereas the opposite is 
the case with those who strive after these things. This 
proves that the divine influence as well as the souls 
have a secret which is not identical with what thou 
sayest, Philosopher. 

After this the Khazari said to himself : I will ask 
the Christians and Moslims, since one of these per- 
suasions is, no doubt, the God -pleasing one. As regards 
the Jews, I am satisfied that they are of low station, 
few in number, and generally despised. 

He then invited a Christian scholastic, and put 
questions to him concerning the theory and practice 
of his faith. 

The Scholastic replied : I believe that all things 
are created, whilst the Creator is eternal ; that He 
created the whole world in six days ; that all mankind 
sprang from Adam, and after him from Noah, to whom 
they trace themselves back ; that God takes care of 
the created beings, and keeps in touch with man ; that 
He shows wrath, pleasure, and compassion ; that He 
speaks, appears, and reveals Himself to His prophets 
and favoured ones ; that He dwells among those who 
please him In short [I believe] in all that is written 
in the Torah and the records of the Children of Israel, 
which are undisputed, because they are generally 
known as lasting, and have been revealed before a 
vast multitude. Subsequently the divine essence 

PART I 41 

became embodied in an embryo in the womb of a 
virgin taken from the noblest ranks of Israeli tish women. 
She bore Him with the semblance of a human being, 
but covering a divinity, seemingly a prophet, but in 
reality a God sent forth. He is the Messiah, whom 
we call the Son of God, and He is the Father, and the 
Son and the Holy Spirit. We condense His nature into 
one thing, although the Trinity appears on our 
tongues. We believe in Him and in His abode among 
the Children of Israel, granted to them as a distinction, 
because the divine influence never ceased to be attached 
to them, until the masses rebelled against this Messiah, 
and they crucified Him. Then divine wrath burdened 
them everlastingly, whilst the favour was confined to 
a few who followed the Messiah, and to those nations 
which followed these few. We belong to their number. 
Although we are not of Israelitish descent, we are well 
deserving of being called Children of Israel, because 
we follow the Messiah and His twelve Israelitish 
companions who took the place of the tribes. Many 
Israelites followed these twelve [apostles], and became 
the leaven, as it were, for the Christians. We are 
worthy of the degree of the Children of Israel. To us 
was also granted victory, and expansion over the 
countries. All nations are invited to this religion, and 
charged to practise it, to adore the Messiah and the 
cross on which He was put, and the like. Our laws and 
regulations are derived from the Apostle Simon, and 
from ordinations taken from the Tora, which we study. 
Its truth is indisputable, as is also the fact that it came 
from God. It is also stated in the New Testament : 
I came not to destroy one of the laws of Moses, but I 
came to confirm and enlarge it. la 


5. Then said the Khazari : I see here no logical 
conclusion ; nay, logic rejects most of what thou sayest. 
If both appearance and experience are so palpable 
that they take hold of the whole heart, compelling belief 
in a thing of which one is not convinced they render 
the matter more feasible by a semblance of j logic. 
This is how natural philosophers deal with strange 
phenomena which come upon them unawares, 
and which they would not believe if they only heard 
of them without seeing them. When they have ex- 
amined them, they discuss them, and ascribe them to 
the influence of stars or spirits without disproving 
ocular evidence. As for me, I cannot accept these 
things, because they come upon me suddenly, not 
having grown up in them. My duty is to investigate 

He then invited one of the Doctors of Islam, and 
questioned him regarding his doctrine and observance. 

The Doctor said : We acknowledge the unity and 
eternity of God, and that all men are derived from 
Adam-Noah. We absolutely reject embodiment, 2 
and if any element of this appears in the Writ, we 
explain it as a metaphor and allegory. At the same 
time we maintain that our Book is the Speech of God, 
being a miracle 3 which we are bound to accept for its 
own sake, since no one is able to bring anything similar 
to it, or to one of its verses. 4 Our prophet is the Seal 
of the prophets, 5 who abrogated every previous law, 6 
and invited all nations to embrace Islam. The reward 
of the pious consists in the return of his spirit to his 
body in paradise and bliss, where he never ceases to 
enjoy eating, drinking, woman's love, and anything 
he may desire. The requital of the disobedient con- 

PART I 43 

sists in being condemned to the fire of hell, and his 
punishment knows no end. 

6. Said to him the Khazari : If any one is to be 
guided in matters divine, and to be convinced that 
God speaks to man, whilst he considers it improb- 
able, he must be convinced of it by means of generally 
known facts, which allow no refutation, and particu- 
larly imbue him with the belief that God has spoken 
to man. Although your book may be a miracle, as 
long as it is written in Arabic, 7 a non-Arab, as I am, 
cannot perceive its miraculous character ; and even if 
it were read to me, I could not distinguish between it 
and any other book written in the Arabic language. 

7. The Doctor replied : Yet miracles were per- 
formed by him, but they were not used as evidence for 
the acceptance of his law. 

8. Al Khazari : Exactly so ; but the human mind 
cannot believe that God has intercourse with man, 
except by a miracle which changes the nature of things. 
He then recognizes that to do so He alone is capable 
who created them from nought. It must also have 
taken place in the presence of great multitudes, who 
saw it distinctly, and did not learn it from reports and 
traditions. Even then they must examine the matter 
carefully and repeatedly, so that no suspicion of 
imagination or magic can enter their minds. Then 
it is possible that the mind may grasp this extra- 
ordinary matter, viz. that the Creator of this world 
and the next, of the heavens and lights, should hold 
intercourse with this contemptible piece of clay, I 
mean man, speak to him, and fulfil his wishes and 

9. The Doctor : Is not our Book full of the stories 


of Moses and the Children of Israel ? No one can 
deny what He did to Pharaoh, how He divided the 
sea, saved those who enjoyed His favour, but drowned 
those who had aroused His wrath. Then came the 
manna and the quails during forty years, His speaking 
to Moses on the mount, making the sun stand still for 
Joshua, and assisting him against the mighty. [Add 
to this] what happened previously, viz. the Flood, the 
destruction of the people of Lot ; is this not so well 
known that no suspicion of deceit and imagination 
is possible ? 

10. Al Khazari : Indeed, I see myself compelled to 
ask the Jews, because they are the relic of the Children 
of Israel. For I see that they constitute in themselves 
the evidence for the divine law on earth. 

He then invited a Jewish Rabbi, and asked him 
about his belief. 

11. The Rabbi replied : I believe in the God of 
Abraham, Isaac and Israel, who led the children of 
Israel out of Egypt with signs and miracles ; who fed 
them in the desert and gave them the land, after having 
made them traverse the sea and the Jordan in a miracu- 
lous way ; who sent Moses with His law, and subse- 
quently thousands of prophets, who confirmed His law 
by promises to the observant, and threats to the dis- 
obedient. Our belief is comprised in the Torah a 
very large domain. 

12. I had not intended to ask any Jew, because I 
am aware of their reduced condition and narrow- 
minded views, as their misery left them nothing com- 
mendable. Now shouldst thou, Jew, not have said 
that thou believest in the Creator of the world, its 
Governor and Guide, and in Him who created and 

PART I 45 

keeps thee, and such attributes which serve as evi- 
dence for every believer, and for the sake of which He 
pursues justice in order to resemble the Creator in His 
wisdom and justice ? 

13. The Rabbi : That which thou dost express is 
religion based on speculation and system, the research 
of thought, but open to many doubts. Now ask the 
philosophers, and thou wilt find that they do not agree 
on one action or one principle, since some doctrines 
can be established by arguments, which are only 
partially satisfactory, and still much less capable of 
being proved. 

14. Al Khazari : That which thou sayest now, 
Jew, seems to be more to the point than the beginning, 
and I should like to hear more. 

15. The Rabbi : Surely the beginning of my speech 
was just the proof, and so evident that it requires no 
other argument. 

16. Al Khazari : How so ? 

17. The Rabbi : Allow me to make a few prelimi- 
nary remarks, for I see thee disregarding and depre- 
ciating my words. 

18. Al Khazari : Let me hear thy remarks. 

19. The Rabbi : If thou wert told that the King of 
India was an excellent man, commanding admiration, 
and deserving his high reputation, one whose actions 
were reflected in the justice which rules his country 
and the virtuous ways of his subjects, would this bind 
thee to revere him ? 

20. Al Khazari : How could this bind me, whilst 
I am not sure if the justice of the Indian people is 
natural, and not dependent on their king, or due to 
the king or both ? 


21. The Rabbi : But if his messenger came to thee 
bringing presents which thou knowest to be only pro- 
curable in India, and in the royal palace, accompanied 
by a letter in which it is distinctly stated from whom 
it comes, and to which are added drugs to cure thy 
diseases, to preserve thy health, poisons for thy ene- 
mies, and other means to fight and kill them without 
battle, would this make thee beholden to him ? 

22. Al Khazari : Certainly. For this would re- 
move my former doubt that the Indians have a king. 
I should also acknowledge that a proof of his power 
and dominion has reached me. 

23. The Rabbi : How wouldst thou, then, if asked, 
describe him ? 

24. Al Khazari : In terms about which I am quite 
clear, and to these I could add others which were at 
first rather doubtful, but are no longer so. 

25. The Rabbi : In this way I answered thy first 
question. In the same strain spoke Moses to Pharaoh, 
when he told him : ' The God of the Hebrews sent me 
to thee,' viz. the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 
For Abraham was well known to the nations, who also 
knew that the divine spirit was in contact with the 
patriarchs, cared for them, and performed miracles for 
them. He did not say : ' The God of heaven and 
earth,' nor ' my Creator and thine sent me.' In the 
same way God commenced His speech to the assembled 
people of Israel : 6 1 am the God whom you worship, 
who has led you out of the land of Egypt,' but He did 
not say : ' I am the Creator of the world and your 
Creator.' Now in the same style I spoke to thee, a 
Prince of the Khazars, when thou didst ask me about 
my creed. I answered thee as was fitting, and is 

PART I 47 

fitting for the whole of Israel who knew these things, 
first from personal experience, and afterwards through 
uninterrupted tradition, which is equal to the former. 

26. Al Khazari : If this be so, then your belief is 
confined to yourselves ? 

27. The Rabbi : Yes ; but any Gentile who joins us 
unconditionally shares our good fortune, without, 
however, being quite equal to us. If the Law were 
binding on us only because God created us, the white 
and the black man would be equal, since He created 
them all. But the Law was given to us because He led 
us out of Egypt, and remained attached to us, because 
we are the cream of mankind. 

28. Al Khazari : Jew, I see thee quite altered, and 
thy words are poor after having been so pleasant. 

29. The Rabbi : Poor or pleasant, give me thy 
attention, and let me express myself more fully. 

30. Al Khazari : Say what thou wilt. 

31. The Rabbi : The laws of nature comprise nur- 
ture, growth, and propagation, with their powers and 
all conditions attached thereto. This is particularly 
the case with plants and animals, to the exclusion of 
earth, stones, metals, and elements. 

32. Al Khazari : This is a maxim which requires 
explanation, though it be true. 

33. The Rabbi : As regards the soul, it is given to 
all animated beings. The result is movement, will 
power, external as well as internal senses and such like. 

34. Al Khazari : This, too, cannot be contradicted. 

35. The Rabbi : Intellect is man's birthright above 
all living beings. This leads to the development of 
his faculties, his home, his country, from which arise 
administrative and regulative laws. 


36. Al Khazari : This is also true. 

37. The Rabbi : Which is the next highest degree ? 

38. Al Khazari : The degree of great sages. 

39. The Rabbi : I only mean that degree which 
separates those who occupy it from the physical point 
of view, as the plant is separated from inorganic things, 
or man from animals. The differences as to quantity, 
however, are endless, as they are only accidental, and 
do not really form a degree. 

40. Al Khazari : If this be so, then there is no 
degree above man among tangible things. 

41. The Rabbi : If we find a man who walks into 
the fire without hurt, or abstains from food for some 
time without starving, on whose face a light shines 
which the eye cannot bear, who is never ill, nor ages, 
until having reached his life's natural end, who dies spon- 
taneously just as a man retires to his couch to sleep on 
an appointed day and hour, equipped with the know- 
ledge of what is hidden as to past and future : is such 
a degree not visibly distinguished from the ordinary 
human degree ? 

42. Al Khazari : This is, indeed, the divine and 
seraphic degree, if it exists at all. It belongs to the 
province of the divine influence, but not to that of the 
intellectual, human, or natural world. 

43. The Rabbi : These are some of the character- 
istics of the undoubted prophets through whom God 
made Himself manifest, and who also made known 
that there is a God who guides them as He wishes, 
according to their obedience or disobedience. He 
revealed to those prophets that which was hidden, 
and taught them how the world was created, how the 
generations prior to the Flood followed each other, 

PART I 49 

and how they reckoned their descent from Adam. He 
described the Flood and the origin of the ' Seventy 
Nations ' from Shem, Ham and Japheth, the sons of 
Noah ; how the languages were split up, and where 
men sought their habitations ; how arts arose, how 
they built cities, and the chronology from Adam up 
to this day. 

44. Al Khazari : It is strange that you should 
possess authentic chronology of the creation of the 

45. The Rabbi : Surely we reckon according to it, 
and there is no difference between the Jews of Khazar 
and Ethiopia in this respect. 

46. Al Khazari : What date do you consider it at 
present ? 

47. The Rabbi : Four thousand and nine hundred 
years. 8 The details can be demonstrated from the lives 
of Adam, Seth and Enosh to Noah ; then Shem and 
Eber to Abraham ; then Isaac and Jacob to Moses. 
All of them represented the essence and purity of Adam 
on account of their intimacy with God. Each of them 
had children only to be compared to them outwardly, 
but not really like them, and, therefore, without direct 
union with the divine influence. The chronology was 
established through the medium of those sainted 
persons who were only single individuals, and not a 
crowd, until Jacob begat the Twelve Tribes, who were 
all under this divine influence. Thus the divine ele- 
ment reached a multitude of persons who carried the 
records further. The chronology of those who lived 
before these has been handed down to us by Moses. 

48. Al Khazari : An arrangement of this kind re- 
moves any suspicion of untruth or common plot. Not 



ten people could discuss such a tiling without dis- 
agreeing, and disclosing their secret understanding ; 
nor could they refute any one who tried to establish 
the truth of a matter like this. How is it possible 
where such a mass of people is concerned ? Finally, 
the period involved is not large enough to admit un- 
truth and fiction. 

49. The Rabbi : That is so. Abraham himself lived 
during the period of the separation of languages. He 
and his relatives retained the language of his grand- 
father Eber, which for that reason is called Hebrew. 
Four hundred years after him appeared Moses at a 
time when the world was rich in information concern- 
ing the heavens and earth. He approached Pharaoh 
and the Doctors of Egypt, as well as those of the 
Israelites. Whilst agreeing with him they questioned 
him, and completely refused to believe that God spoke 
with man, until he caused them to hear the Ten Words. 
In the same way the people were on his side, not from 
ignorance, but on account of the knowledge they pos- 
sessed. They feared magic and astrological arts, and 
similar snares, things which, like deceit, do not bear 
close examination, whereas the divine might is like 
pure gold, ever increasing in brilliancy. How could 
one imagine that an attempt had been made to show 
that a language spoken five hundred years previously 
was none but Eber's own language split up in 
Babel during the days of Peleg ; also to trace the 
origin of this or that nation back to Shem or Ham, and 
the same with their countries ? Is it likely that any 
one could to-day invent false statements concerning 
the origin, history, and languages of well-known nations, 
the latter being less than five hundred years old ? 

PART I 51 

50. Al Khazari : This is not possible. How could 
it be, since we possess books in the handwriting of their 
authors written five hundred years ago ? No false 
interpolation could enter the contents of a book which 
is not above five hundred years of age, such as genea- 
logical tables, linguistic and other works. 

51. The Rabbi : Now why should Moses' speeches 
remain uncontradicted ? Did not his own people raise 
objections, not to speak of others ? 

52. Al Khazari : These things are handed down well 
founded and firmly established. 

53. The Rabbi : Dost thou think that the languages 
are eternal and without beginning ? 

\- 54. Al Khazari : No ; they undoubtedly had a begin- 
ning, which originated in a conventional manner. Evi- 
dence of this is found in their composition of nouns, 
verbs, and particles. They originated from sounds 
derived from the organs of speech. 

[55. The Rabbi : Didst thou ever see any one who 
contrived a language, or didst thou hear of him ?] 

56. Al Khazari : Neither the one nor the other. 
There is no doubt that it appeared at some time, but 
prior to this there was no language concerning which 
one nation, to the exclusion of another, could come to 
any agreement. 

57. The Rabbi : Didst thou ever hear of a nation 
which possessed different traditions with regard to the 
generally acknowledged week which begins with the 
Sunday and ends with the Sabbath ? How is it pos- 
sible that the people of China could agree with those 
of the western islands without common beginning, 
agreement and convention^? 9 

58. Al Khazari : Such a thing would only have 


been possible if they had all come to an agreement. 
This, however, is improbable, unless all men are the 
descendants of Adam, of Noah, or of some other 
ancestor from whom they received the hebdomadal cal- 

59. The Rabbi : That is what I meant. East and 
West agree on the decimal system. What instinct 
induced them to keep to the number ten, unless it was 
a tradition handed down by the first one who did so ? 10 

60. Al Khazari : Does it not weaken thy belief if 
thou art told that the Indians have antiquities and 
buildings which they consider to be millions of years 

61. The Rabbi : It would, indeed, weaken my belief 
had they a fixed form of religion, or a book concerning 
which a multitude of people held the same opinion, and 
in which no historical discrepancy could be found. 
Such a book, however, does not exist. Apart from 
this, they are a dissolute, unreliable people, and arouse 
the indignation of the followers of religions through 
their talk, whilst they anger them with their idols, 
talismans, and witchcraft. To such things they pin 
their faith, and deride those who boast of the pos- 
session of a divine book. Yet they only possess a few 
books, and these were written to mislead the weak- 
minded. To this class belong astrological writings, in 
which they speak of ten thousands of years, as the book 
on the Nabataean Agriculture, in which are mentioned 
the names of Janbushar, Sagrit and Roanai. 11 It is 
believed that they lived before Adam, who was the 
disciple of Janbushar, and such like. 

62. Al Khazari : If I had supported my arguments 
by reference to a negro people, i.e. a people not united 

PART I 53 

upon a common law, thy answer would have been 
correct. Now what is thy opinion of the philosophers 
who, as the result of their careful researches, agree 
that the world is without beginning, and here it does 
not concern tens of thousands, and not millions, but 
unlimited numbers of years. 

63. The Kabbi : There is an excuse for the Philo- 
sophers. Being Grecians, science and religion did not 
come to them as inheritances. They belong to the 
descendants of Japheth, who inhabited the north, whilst 
that knowledge coming from Adam, and supported by 
the divine influence, is only to be found among the 
progeny of Shem, who represented the successors of Noah 
and constituted, as it were, his essence. This knowledge 
has always been connected with this essence, and will 
always remain so. The Greeks only received it when 
they became powerful, from Persia. The Persians had it 
from the Chaldaeans. It was only then that the 
famous [Greek] Philosophers arose, but as soon as 
Rome assumed political leadership they produced no 
philosopher worthy the name. 

64. Al Khazari : Does this mean that Aristotle's 
philosophy is not deserving of credence ? 

65. The Rabbi : Certainly. He exerted his mind, 
because he had no tradition from any reliable source 
at his disposal. He meditated on the beginning and 
end of the world, but found as much difficulty in the 
theory of a beginning as in that of eternity. Finally, 
these abstract speculations which made for eternity, 
prevailed, and he found no reason to inquire into the 
chronology or derivation of those who lived before 
him. Had he lived among a people with well authen- 
ticated and generally acknowledged traditions, he would 


have applied his deductions and arguments to establish 
the theory of [creation, however difficult, instead of 
eternity, which is even much more difficult to ac- 

66. Al Khazari : Is there any decisive proof ? 

67. The Rabbi : Where could we find one for such 
a question ? Heaven forbid that there should be any- 
thing in the Bible to contradict that which is manifest 
or proved ! On the other hand it tells of miracles 
and the changes of ordinary, things newly arising, or 
changing one into the other. This proves that the 
Creator of the world is able to accomplish what 
He will, and whenever He will. The question 
of eternity and creation is obscure, whilst the argu- 
ments are evenly balanced. The theory of creation 
derives greater weight from the prophetic tradition of 
Adam, Noah, and Moses, which is more deserving *Jof 
credence than mere speculation. If, after all, a be- 
liever in the Law finds ^himself compelled to admit an 
eternal matter and the^existence of many^worlds prior 
to this one, this would not impair his belief that this 
world was created at a certain epoch, 12 and that Adam 
and Noah were the first human beings. 

68. Al Khazari : Thus far I find these arguments 
quite satisfactory. Should we continue our con- 
versation, I will trouble thee to adduce more decisive 
proofs. Now take up the thread of thy earlier ex- 
position, how the great conviction settled in thy soul, 
that the Creator of body and spirit, soul, intellect and 
angels He who is too high, holy and exalted for the 
mind still less for the senses to grasp that He holds 
intercourse with- creatures made of low and contemp- 
tible material, wonderful as this may seem. For the 

PART I 55 

smallest worm shows the wonders of His wisdom in a 
manner beyond the human mind. 

69. The Rabbi : Thou hast forestalled much of my 
intended answer to thee. Dost thou ascribe the wisdom 
apparent in the creation of an ant (for example) to a 
sphere or star, or to any other object, to the exclusion 
of the Almighty Creator, who weighs and gives every- 
thing its due, giving neither too much, nor too little ? 

70. Al Khazari : This is ascribed to the action of 

71. The Rabbi : What is Nature ? 

72. Al Khazari : As far as philosophy teaches, it is 
a certain power ; only we do not know what it really 
is. No doubt philosophers know. 

73. The Rabbi : They know as much as we do. 
Aristotle 13 denned it as the beginning and primary) 
cause through which a thing either moves or rests, not! 
by accidents, but on account of its innate essence. 

74. Al Khazari : This would mean that the thing 
which moves or rests on its own account has a cause 
through which it moves or rests. This cause is Nature. 

75. The Rabbi : This opinion is the result of diligent 
research, criticism, and discrimination between acci- 
dental and natural occurrences. These things astonish 
those who hear them, but nothing else springs from 
the knowledge of nature. 

76. Al Khazari : All I can see is, that they have 
misled us by these names, and caused us to place another 
being on a par with God, if we say that Nature is wise 
and active. Speaking in their sense, we might even 
say : possessed of intelligence. 

77. The Rabbi : Certainly ; but the elements, moon, 
sun and stars have powers such as warming, cooling, 


moistening, drying, etc., but do not merit that wisdom 
should be ascribed to them, or be reckoned more than 
a function. Forming, measuring, producing, however, 
and all that shows an intention, can only be ascribed 
to the All-wise and Almighty. There is no harm in 
calling the power which arranges matter by means of 
heat and cooling, ' Nature,' but all intelligence must be 
denied it. So must the faculty of creating the embryo 
be denied to human beings, because they only aid 
matter in receiving human form from its wise Creator. 
Thou must not deem it improbable that exalted divine 
traces should be visible in this material world, when 
this matter is prepared to receive them. Here are to 
be found the roots of faith as well as of disbelief. 

78. Al Khazari : How is this possible ? 

79. The Rabbi : These conditions which render man 
fit to receive this divine influence do not he with- 
in him. It is impossible for him to gauge their 
quantity or quality, and even if their essence were 
known, yet neither their time, place, and connexion, 
nor suitability could be discovered. For this, inspired 
and detailed instruction is necessary. He who has 
been thus inspired, and obeys the teaching in every 
respect with a pure mind, is a believer. Whosoever 
strives by speculation and deduction to prepare the 
conditions for the reception of this inspiration, or by 
divining, as is found in the writings of astrologers, 
trying to call down supernatural beings, or manu- 
facturing talismans, such a man is an unbeliever. He 
may bring offerings and burn incense in the name of 
speculation and conjecture, whilst he is in reality 
ignorant of that which he should do, how much, in 
which way, by what means, in which place, by whom, 

PART I 57 

in which manner, and many other details, the enumera- 
tion of which would lead too far. He is like an ignor- 
amus who enters the surgery of a physician famous for 
the curative power of his medicines. The physician 
is not at home, but people come for medicines. The 
fool dispenses them out of the jars, knowing nothing 
of the contents, nor how much should be given to each 
person. Thus he kills with the very medicine which 
should have cured them. Should he by chance have 
effected a cure with one of the drugs, the people will 
turn to him and say that he helped them, till they dis- 
cover that he deceived them, or they seek other advice, 
and cling to this without noticing that the real cure 
was effected by the skill of the learned physician who 
prepared the medicines and explained the proper 
manner in which they were to be administered. He 
also taught the patients what food and drink, exercise 
and rest, etc., was necessary, likewise what air was the 
best, and which place of repose Like unto the patients 
duped by the ignoramus, so were men, with few excep- 
tions, before the time of Moses. They were deceived 
by astrological and physical rules, wandered from law 
to law, from god to god, or adopted a plurality at the 
same time. They forgot their guide and master, and 
regarded their false gods as helping causes, whilst they 
are in reality damaging causes, according to their con- 
struction and arrangement. Profitable on its own 
account is the divine influence, hurtful on its own 
account the absence thereof. 

; 80. Al Khazari : Let us now return to our subject, 
and explain to me how your belief grew, how it spread 
and became general, how opinions became united after 
having differed, and how long it took for the faith to 


lay its foundation, and to be built up into a strong and 
complete structure. The first element of religion 
appeared, no doubt, among single individuals, who 
supported one another in upholding the faith which it 
pleased God should be promulgated. Their number 
increases continually, they grow more powerful, or a 
king arises and assists them, also compels his subjects 
to adopt the same creed. 14 

81. The Rabbi : In this way only rational re- 
ligions, of human origin, can arise. When a man 
succeeds and attains an exalted position, it is said that 
he is supported by God, who inspired him, etc. A 
religion of divine origin arises suddenly. It is bidden 
to arise, and it is there, like the creation of the world. 

82. Al Khazari : Thou surprisest me, Rabbi. 

83. The Rabbi : It is, indeed, astonishing. The 
Israelites lived in Egypt as slaves, six hundred thou- 
sand men above the age of twenty, descendants of the 
Twelve Tribes. Not one of them had separated or 
emigrated into another country, nor was a stranger 
among them. They looked forward to the promise 
given to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 
that the land of Palestine should be their inheritance. 
At that time it was in the power of seven mighty and 
prosperous nations, whilst the Israelites sighed in the 
depths of misery under the bondage of Pharaoh, who 
caused their children to be put to death, lest they 
should increase in number. Notwithstanding their 
lowly position as compared to the tyrant in his might, 
God sent Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh with signs 
and miracles, allowing them even to change the course 
of nature. Pharaoh could not get away from them, 
nor harm them, neither could he protect himself from 

PART I 59 

the ten plagues which befel the Egyptians, affecting 
their streams, land, air, plants, animals, bodies, 
even their souls. For in one moment, at midnight, 
died the most precious and most beloved members of 
their houses, viz. every firstborn male. There was no 
dwelling without dead, except the houses of the Israel- 
ites. All these plagues were preceded by warnings 
and menaces, and their cessation was notified in the 
same way, so that everyone should become convinced 
that they were ordained by God, who does what He 
will and when He will, and were not ordinary natural 
phenomena, nor wrought by constellations or accident. 
The Israelites left the country of Pharaoh's bondage, 
by the command of God, the same night and at the 
same moment, when the firstborn died, and reached 
the shores of the Red Sea. They were guided by 
pillars of cloud and fire, and led by Moses and Aaron, 
the venerated, inspired chiefs, then about eighty years 
of age. Up to this time they had only a few laws which 
they had inherited from Adam and Noah. These laws 
were not abrogated 15 by Moses, but rather^increased by 
him. When Pharaoh pursued the Israelites they did 
not have recourse to arms, being unskilled in their use. 
God, however, divided the sea, and they traversed it. 
Pharaoh and his host were drowned, and the waves 
washed their corpses towards the Israelites, so that 
they could see them with their own eyes. It is a long 
and well-known story. 

84. Al Khazari : This is, in truth, divine power, 
and the commandments connected with it must be 
accepted. No one could imagine for a moment that 
this was the result of necromancy, calculation, or 
phantasy. For had it been possible to procure 


belief in any imaginary dividing of the waters, and 
the crossing of the same, it would also have been pos- 
sible to gain credence for a similar imposition con- 
cerning their delivery from bondage, the death of 
their tormentors, and the capture of their goods and 
chattels. This would be even worse than denying 
the existence of God. 

85. The Rabbi : And later on, when they came to 
the desert, which was not sown, he sent them food 
which, with the exception of Sabbath, was created 
daily for them, and they ate it for forty years. 

86. Al Khazari : This also is irrefutable, viz. a 
thing which occurred to six hundred thousand people 
for forty years. Six days in the week the Manna came 
down, but on the Sabbath it stopped. This makes the 
observance of the Sabbath obligatory, since divine 
ordination is visible in it. 

^87. The Rabbi : The Sabbatical law is derived 
from this circumstance, as well as from the creation of 
the world in six days, also from another matter to be 
discussed later on. 16 Although the people believed in 
the message of Moses, they retained, even after the 
performance of the miracles, some doubt as to whether 
God really spake to mortals, and whether the Law was 
not of human origin, and only later on supported by 
divine inspiration. They could not associate speech 
with a divine being, since it is something tangible. 
God, however, desired to remove this doubt, and com- 
manded them to prepare themselves morally, as well 
as physically, enjoining them to keep aloof from their 
wives, and to be ready to hear the words of God. The 
people prepared and became fitted to receive the 
divine afflatus, and even to hear publicly the words of 

PART I 61 

God. This came to pass three days later, being 
introduced by overwhelming phenomena, lightning, 
thunder, earthquake and fire, which surrounded Mount 
Sinai. The fire remained visible on the mount forty 
days. They also saw Moses enter it and emerge from 
it ; they distinctly heard the Ten Commandments, 
which represent the very essence of the Law. One of 
them is the ordination of Sabbath, a law which had 
previously been connected with the gift of the Manna. 
The people did not receive these ten commandments 
from single individuals, nor from a prophet, but from 
God, only they did not possess the strength of Moses 
to bear the grandeur of the scene. Henceforth the people 
believed that Moses held direct communication with 
God, that his words were not creations of his own 
mind, that prophecy did not (a sphilosophers assume) 
burst forth in a pure soul, become united with the 
Active Intellect (also termed Holy Spirit or Gabriel), 
and be then inspired. They did not believe Moses had 
seen a vision in sleep, or that some one had spoken with 
him between sleeping and waking, so that he only 
heard the words in fancy, but not with his ears, that 
he saw a phantom, and afterwards pretended that God 
had spoken with him. Before such an impressive 
scene all ideas of jugglery vanished. The divine 
allocution was followed by the divine writing. For 
he wrote these Ten Words on two tablets of precious 
stone, and handed them to Moses. The people saw 
the divine writing, as they had heard the divine words. 
Moses made an ark by God's command, and built the 
Tent over it. It remained among the Israelites as long 
as prophecy lasted, i.e. about nine hundred years, until 
the people became disobedient. Then the ark was 


hidden, and Nebuchadnezzar conquered and drove 
the Israelites into exile. 

88. Al Khazari : Should any one hear you relate 
that God spoke with your assembled multitude, and 
wrote tables for you, etc., he would be blamed for 
accusing you of holding the theory of personification. 17 
You, on the other hand, are free from blame, because 
this grand and lofty spectacle, seen by thousands, 
cannot be denied. You are justified in rejecting [the 
charge of] mere reasoning and speculation. 

89. The Kabbi : Heaven forbid that I should as- 
sume what is against sense and reason. The first of 
the Ten Commandments enjoins the belief in divine 
providence. The second command contains the pro- 
hibition of the worship of other gods, or the as- 
sociation of any being with Him, the prohibition to 
represent Him in statues, forms and images, or any 
personification of Him. How should we not deem him 
exalted above personification, since we do so with 
many of His creations, e.g. the human soul, which 
represents man's true essence. For that part of Moses 
which spoke to us, taught and guided us, was not his 
tongue, or heart, or brain. Those were only organs, 
whilst Moses himself is the intellectual, discriminating, 
incorporeal soul, not limited by place, neither too large, 
nor too small for any space in order to contain the 
images of all creatures. If we ascribe spiritual ele- 
ments to it, how much more must we do so to the 
Creator of all ? We must not, however, endeavour 
to reject the conclusions to be drawn from revelation. 
We say, then, that we do not know how the intention 
became corporealised and the speech evolved which 
struck our ear, nor what new thing God created from 

PART I 63 

nought, nor wnat existing thing He employed. He 
does not lack the power. We say that He created the 
two tables, engraved a text on them, in the same 
way as He created the heaven and the stars by His will 
alone. God desired it, and they became concrete as He 
wished it, engraved with the text of the Ten Words. We 
also say that He divided the sea and formed it into 
two walls, which He caused to stand on the right and 
on the left of the people, for whom He made easy wide 
roads and a smooth ground for them to walk on with- 
out fear and trouble. This rending, constructing and 
arranging, are attributed to God, who required no tool 
or intermediary, as would be necessary for human toil. 
As the water stood at His command, shaped itself at 
His will, so the air which touched the prophet's ear, 
assumed the form of sounds, which] conveyed the matters 
to be communicated by God to the prophet and the 

90. Al Khazari : This representation is satisfactory. 

91. The Rabbi : I do not maintain that this is ex- 
actly how these things occurred ; the problem is no 
doubt too deep for me to fathom. But the result was 
that every one who was present at the time became 
convinced that the matter proceeded from God direct. 
It is to be compared to the first act of creation. The 
belief in the law connected with those scenes is as 
firmly established in the mind as the belief in the 
creation of the world, and that He created it in the 
same manner in which He as is known created the 
two tablets, the manna, and other things. Thus 
disappear from*the soul of the believer the doubts of 
philosophers and materialists. 

92. Al Khazari : Take care, Rabbi, lest too great 


indulgence in the description of the superiority of thy 
people make thee not unbearable, causing thee to over- 
look what is known of their disobedience in spite of 
the revelation. I have heard that in the midst of it 
they made a calf and worshipped it. 

93. The Rabbi : A sin which was reckoned all the 
heavier on account of their greatness. Great is he 
whose sins are counted. 18 

94. Al Khazari : This is what makes thee tedious 
and makes thee appear partial to thy people. What 
sin could be greater than this, and what deed could 
have exceeded this ? 

95. The Rabbi : Bear with me a little while that I 
show the lofty station of the people. For me it is 
sufficient that God chose them as His people from all 
nations of the world, and allowed His influence to rest 
on all of them, and that they nearly approached being 
addressed by Him. It even descended on their women, 
among whom were prophetesses, whilst since Adam 
only isolated individuals had been inspired till then. 
Adam was perfection itself, because no flaw could be 
found in a work of a wise and Almighty Creator, wrought 
from a substance chosen by Him, and fashioned accord- 
ing to His own design. There was no restraining in- 
fluence, no fear of atavism, no question of nutrition 
or education during the years of childhood and growth ; 
neither was there the influence of climate, water, or 
soil to consider. For He created him in the form of 
an adolescent, perfect in body and mind. The soul 
with which he was endowed was perfect ; his intellect 
was the loftiest which it is possible for a human being 
to possess, and beyond this he was gifted with the 
divine power of such high rank, that it brought him 

PART I 65 

into connexion with beings divine and spiritual, and 
enabled him, with slight reflection, to comprehend the 
great truths without instruction. We call him God's 
son, and we call all those who were like him also sons 
of God. He left many children, of whom the only 
one capable of taking his place was Abel, because he 
alone was like him. After he had been slain by Kain 
through jealousy of this privilege, it passed to his 
brother Seth, who also was like Adam, being [as it 
were] his essence and heart, whilst the others were like 
husks and rotten fruit. The essence of Seth, then, 
passed to Enosh, and in this way the divine influence 
was inherited by isolated individuals down to Noah. 
They are compared to the heart ; they resembled Adam, 
and were styled sons of God. They were perfect out- 
wardly and inwardly, their lives, knowledge and 
ability being likewise faultless. Their lives fix the 
chronology from Adam to Noah, as well as from Noah 
to Abraham. There were some, however, among 
them who did not come under divine influence, as 
Terah, but his son Abraham was the disciple of his 
grandfather Eber, and was born in the lifetime of Noah. 
Thus the divine spirit descended from the grand- 
father to the grandchildren. Abraham represented the 
essence of Eber, being his disciple, and for this reason 
he was called 76n'. 19 Eber represented the essence of 
Shem, the latter that of Noah. He inherited the 
temperate zone, the centre and principal part of which 
is Palestine, the land of prophecy. Japheth turned 
towards north, and Ham towards south. The essence 
of Abraham passed over to Isaac, to the exclusion of 
the other sons who were all removed from the land, 
the special inheritance of Isaac. The prerogative of 



Isaac descended on Jacob, whilst Esau was sent from 
the land which belonged to Jacob. The sons of the 
latter were all worthy of the divine influence, as well 
as of the country distinguished by the divine spirit. 
This is the first instance of the divine influence descend- 
ing on a number of people, whereas it had previously 
only been vouchsafed to isolated individuals. Then 
God tended them in Egypt, multiplied and aggrandised 
them, as a tree with a sound root grows until it pro- 
duces perfect fruit, resembling the first fruit from 
which it was planted, viz. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 
Joseph and his brethren. The seed further produced 
Moses, Aaron and Miriam, Bezaleel, Oholiab, and the 
chiefs of the tribes, the seventy Elders, who were all 
endowed with the spirit of prophecy ; then Joshua, 
Kaleb, Hur, and many others. Then they became 
worthy of having the divine light and providence made 
visible to them. If disobedient men existed among 
them, they were hated, but remained, without doubt, 
of the essence inasmuch as they were part of it 
on account of their descent and nature, and begat 
children who were of the same stamp. An ungodly 
man received consideration in proportion to the minute- 
ness of the essence with which he was endowed, for it 
reappeared in his children and grandchildren accord- 
ing to the purity of their lineage. This is how we 
regard Terah and others in whom the divine afflatus 
was not visible, though, to a certain extent, it underlay 
his natural disposition, so that he begat a descendant 
filled with the essence, which was not the case with all 
the posterity of Ham and Japhet. We perceive a 
similar phenomenon in nature at large. Many people 
do not resemble their father, but take after their grand- 

PART I 67 

fathers. There cannot, consequently, be any doubt 
that this nature and resemblance was hidden in the 
father, although it did not become visible outwardly, 
as was the nature of Eber in his children, until it re- 
appeared in Abraham. 

96. Al Khazari : This is the true greatness, which de- 
scended direct from Adam. He was the noblest 
creature on earth. Therefore you rank above all the 
other inhabitants of the earth. But what of this 
privilege at the time when that sin was committed ? 

97. The Kabbi : All nations were given to idolatry 
at that time. Even had they been philosophers, dis- 
coursing on the unity and government of God, they 
would have been unable to dispense with images, and 
would have taught the masses that a divine influence 
hovered over this image, which was distinguished by 
some miraculous feature. Some of them ascribed this 
to God, even as we to-day treat some particular spots 
with reverence, going so far as to believe ourselves 
blessed by their dust and stones. 20 Others ascribed 
it to the spiritual influence of some star or constellation, 
or of a talisman, or to other things of that kind. The 
people did not pay so much attention to a single law 
as to a tangible image in which they believed. The 
Israelites had been promised that something visible 
would descend on them from God which they could 
follow, as they followed the pillars of cloud and fire 
when they departed from Egypt. This they pointed 
out, and turned to it, praising it, and worshipping God 
in its presence. Thus they also turned towards the 
cloud which hovered over Moses while God spake with 
him ; they remained standing and adoring God opposite 
to it. Now when the people had heard the proclama- 


tion of the Ten Commandments, and Moses had as- 
cended the mount in order to receive the inscribed 
tables which he was to bring down to them, and then 
make an ark which was to be the point towards which 
they should direct their gaze during their devotions,* 
they waited for his return clad in the same apparel in 
which they had witnessed the drama on Sinai, without 
removing their jewels or changing their clothes, re- 
maining just as he left them, expecting every moment 
to see him return. He, however, tarried forty days, 
although he had not provided himself with food, having 
only left them with the intention of returning the 
same day. An evil spirit overpowered a portion of 
the people, and they began to divide into parties and 
factions. Many views and opinions were expressed, 
till at last some decided to do like the other nations, 
and seek an object in which they could have faith, 
without, however, prejudicing the supremacy of Him 
who had brought them out of Egypt. On the con- 
trary, this was to be something to which they could 
point when relating the wonders of God, as the Philis- 
tines 21 did with the ark when they said that God dwelt 
within it. We do the same with the sky and every 
other object concerning which we know that it is set 
in motion by the divine will exclusively, and not by 
any accident or desire of man or nature. Their sin 
consisted in the manufacture of an image of a forbidden 
thing, and in attributing divine power to a creation of 
their own, something chosen by themselves without 

* In the original, a clause is inserted which I place here 
in order to facilitate the reading : In this was the divine 
covenant and God's latest creation, the tablets. To it also 
belonged the cloud, the Urim, and all miracles by its instru- 

PART I 69 

the guidance of God. Some excuse may be found for 
them in the dissension which had broken out among 
them, and in the fact that out of six hundred thou- 
sand souls the number of those who worshipped the 
calf was below three thousand. For those of higher 
station who assisted in making it an excuse might be 
found in the fact that they wished to clearly separate 
the disobedient from the pious, in order to slay those 
who would worship the calf. On the other hand, they 
sinned in causing what was only a sin of intention to 
become a sin in deed. This sin was not on a par with 
an entire lapse from all obedience to Him who had led 
them out of Egypt, as only one of His commands was 
violated by them. God had forbidden images, and in 
spite of this they made one. They should have waited 
and not have assumed power, have arranged a place 
of worship, an altar, and sacrifices. This had been 
done by the advice of the astrologers and magicians 
among them, who were of opinion that their actions 
based on their ideas would be more correct than the 
true ones. They resembled the fool of whom we spoke, 
who entered the surgery of a physician and dealt out 
death instead of healing to those who came there. At 
the same time the people did not intend to give up 
their allegiance to God. On the contrary, they were, 
in theory, more zealous in their devotion. They there* 
fore approached Aaron, and he, desiring to make their 
plan public, assisted them in their undertaking. For 
this reason he is to be blamed for changing their theo- 
retical disobedience into a reality. The whole affair 
is repulsive to us, because in this age the majority of 
nations have abandoned the worship of images. It 
appeared less objectionable at that time, because all 


nations were then idolaters. Had their sin consisted 
in constructing a house of worship of their own, and 
making a place of prayer, offering and veneration, the 
matter would not have been so grave, because now- 
adays we also build our houses of worship, hold them 
in great respect, and seek blessing through their means. 
We even say that God dwells in them, and that they 
are surrounded by angels. If this were not essential 
for the gathering of our community, it would be as 
unknown as it was at the time of the kings, when the 
people were forbidden to erect places of worship, called 
heights. The pious kings destroyed them, lest they 
be venerated beside the house chosen by God in which 
He was to be worshipped according to His own ordi- 
nances. There was nothing strange in the form of the 
cherubim made by His command. In spite of these 
things, those who worshipped the calf were punished 
on the same day, and three thousand out of six hundred 
thousand were slain. The Manna, however, did not 
cease falling for their maintenance, nor the cloud to 
give them shade, nor the pillar of fire to guide them. 
Prophecy continued spreading and increasing among 
them, and nothing that had been granted was taken 
from them, except the two tables, which Moses broke. 
But then he pleaded for their restoration ; they were 
restored, and the sin was forgiven. 

98. Al Khazari : The theory I had formed, and the 
opinion of what I saw in my dream thou now con- 
firmest, viz. that man can only merit divine influence 
by acting according to God's commands And even 
were it not so, most men strive to obtain it, even as- 
trologers, magicians, fire and sun worshippers, dualists 

PART I 71 

99. The Rabbi : Thou art right. Our laws were 
written in the Torah by Moses, who had them direct 
from God, and handed them down to the masses as- 
sembled in the desert. There was no necessity to 
quote any older authority with regard to the single 
chapters and verses, nor with regard to the description 
of sacrifices, where and in what manner they were to 
be offered up, and what was to be done with the blood 
and the limbs, etc. Everything was clearly stated by 
God, as the smallest matter missing would interfere 
with the completeness of the whole thing. It is here, 
as in the formations of nature, which are composed of 
such minute elements that they defy perception, and 
if their mutual relation suffered the smallest change, 
the whole formation would be damaged, that plant or 
animal, or limb, would be imperfect and non- 
existing. In the same manner the law prescribes how 
the sacrificed animal should be dismembered, and 
what should be done with each limb, what should be 
eaten and what burnt, who should eat and who burn, 
and which section [of priests] should have the charge 
of offering it up, and which dared not. It also pre- 
scribed in what condition those who brought the offer- 
ings must be, so that they should be faultless, both as 
regards appearance and apparel, especially the High 
Priest, who had the privilege of entering the place of 
Divinity which enclosed God's glory, the ark and the 
Torah. To this are attached the rules for cleanliness 
and purity, and the various grades of purification, 
sanctification, and prayer, the description of which 
would lead us too far. In all these matters they had 
to rely on the reading of the Torah, combined with the 
traditions of the Rabbis, based on God's communica- 


tions to Moses. In the same manner the form of the 
Tabernacle was shown to Moses on the mountain, viz. 
the tabernacle, the interior, the candlestick, the ark, 
and the surrounding court, with its pillars, coverings, 
and all appurtenances, were caused by God to appear 
to him in their real shape, in the form in which He 
commanded to have them executed. In the same way 
was the temple of Solomon built according to the 
model revealed to David. So also will the last sanctuary 
promised us be shaped and arranged according to the 
details seen by the prophet Ezekiel. In the service 
of God there is no arguing, reasoning, and debating 
Had this been possible, philosophers with their wisdom 
and acumen would have achieved even more than 

100. Al Khazari : Thus the human mind can accept 
the Law cheerfully and unhesitatingly, without doubt- 
ing that a prophet would come to the oppressed and 
enslaved people, and promise them that they would 
at an appointed time, thus and without delay, be de- 
livered from bondage. Moses led them to Palestine 
against seven nations, each of which was stronger than 
they were, assigned to each tribe its portion of the land 
before they reached it. All this was accomplished in 
the shortest space of time, and accompanied by miracu- 
lous events. This proves the omnipotence of the 
Sender as well as the greatness of the Messenger, and 
the high station of those who alone received this mes- 
sage. Had he said : 22 'I was sent to guide the whole 
world in the right path,' and would only have partially 
fulfilled his task, his message would have been deficient, 
since the divine will would not have been carried out 
completely. The perfection of his work was marred 

PART I 73 

by the fact that his book was written in Hebrew, 23 
which made it unintelligible to the peoples of Sind, 
India, and Khazar. They would, therefore, be unable 
to practise his laws till some centuries had elapsed, or 
they had been prepared for it by changes of conquest, 
or alliance, but not through the revelation of that 
prophet himself, or of another who would stand up for 
him, and testify to his law. 

101. The Rabbi : Moses invited only Ms people 
and those of his own tongue to accept his law, whilst 
God promised that there should at all times be pro - 
phets to expound his law. This He did so long as they 
found favour in His sight, and His presence was with 

102. Al Khazari : Would it not have been better or 
more commensurate with divine wisdom, if all man- 
kind had been guided in the true path ? 

103. The Rabbi : Or would it not have been best 
for all animals to have been reasonable beings ? Thou 
hast, apparently, forgotten what we said previously 
concerning the genealogy of Adam's progeny, and how 
the spirit of divine prophecy rested on one person, who 
was chosen from his brethren, and the essence of his 
father. It was he in whom this divine light was con- 
centrated. He was the kernel, whilst the others were 
as shells which had no share in it. The sons of Jacob 
were, however, distinguished from other people by 
godly qualities, which made them, so to speak, an 
angelic caste. Each of them, being permeated by the 
divine essence, endeavoured to attain the degree of 
prophecy, and most of them succeeded in so doing. 
Those who were not successful strove to approach it 
by means of pious acts, sanctity, purity, and inter- 


course with prophets. Know that he who converses 
with a prophet experiences spiritualization during the 
time he listens to his oration. He differs from his 
own kind in the purity of soul, in a yearning for the 
[higher] degrees and attachment to the qualities of 
meekness and purity. This was a manifest proof to 
them, and a clear and convincing sign 24 of reward 
hereafter. For the only result to be expected from 
this is that the human soul becomes divine, being de- 
tached from material senses, joining the highest world, 
and enjoying the vision of the divine light, and hearing 
the divine speech. Such a soul is safe from death, 
even after its physical organs have perished. If thou, 
then, findest a religion the knowledge and practice of 
which assists in the attainment of this degree, at the 
place pointed out and with the conditions laid down 
by it, this is beyond doubt the religion which insures 
the immortality of the soul after the demise of the body. 

104. Al Khazari : The anticipations of other churches 
are grosser and more sensuous than yours. 

105. The Rabbi : They are none of them realized 
till after death, whilst during this life nothing points 
to them. 

106. Al Khazari : May be ; I have never seen any 
one who believed in these promises desire their speedy 
fulfilment. On the contrary, if he could delay them 
a thousand years, and remain in the bonds of this life 
in spite of the hardship of this world, he would prefer 

107. The Rabbi : What is thy opinion concerning 
him who witnessed those grand and divine scenes ? 

108. Al Khazari : That he, no doubt, longs for the 
perpetual separation of his soul from his material 

PART I 75 

senses, in order to enjoy that light. It is such a person 
who would desire death. 

109. The Rabbi : Now all that our promises imply 
is that we shall become connected with the divine 
Influence by means of prophecy, or something nearly 
approaching it, and also through our relation to the 
divine influence, as displayed to us in grand and awe- 
inspiring miracles. Therefore we do not find in the 
Bible : ' If you keep this law, I will bring you after 
death into beautiful gardens and great pleasures.' 
On the contrary it is said : ' You shall be my chosen 
people, and I will be a God unto you, who will guide 
you. Whoever of you comes to me, and ascends to 
lieaven, is as those who, themselves, dwell among the 
angels, 25 and my angels shall dwell among them on 
earth. You shall see them singly or in hosts, watch- 
ing you and fighting for you without your joining in 
the fight. You shall remain in the country which 
forms a stepping-stone to this degree, viz. the Holy 
Land. Its fertility or barrenness, its happiness or 
misfortune, depend upon the divine Influence which 
your conduct will merit, whilst the rest of the world 
would continue its natural course. For if the divine 
presence is among you, you will perceive by the fer- 
tility of your country, by the regularity with which 
your rainfalls appear in their due seasons, by your 
victories over your enemies in spite of your inferior 
numbers, that your affairs are not managed by simple 
laws of nature, but by the divine Will. You also see 
that drought, death, and wild beasts pursue you as 
a result of disobedience, although the whole world 
lives in peace. This shows you that your concerns 
are arranged by a higher power than mere nature.' 


All this, the laws included, is closely connected with 
the promises, and no disappointment is feared. All 
these promises have one basis, viz. the anticipation of 
being near God and His hosts. He who attains this 
degree need not fear death, as is clearly demonstrated 
in our Law. The following parable will illustrate this : 
One of a company of friends who sought solicitude in 
a remote spot, once journeyed to India, and had honour 
and rank bestowed on him by her king, who knew that 
he was one of these friends, and who had also known 
their fathers, former comrades of his own. The king 
loaded him with presents for his friends, gave him 
costly raiment for himself, and then dismissed him, 
sending members of his own retinue to accompany 
him on his return journey. No one knew that they 
belonged to the court, nor that they travelled into the 
desert. He had received commissions and treaties, 
and in return he had to swear fealty to the king. Then 
he and his Indian escort returned to his companions, 
and received a hearty welcome from them. They 
took pains to accommodate them and to show them 
honour. They also built a castle and allowed them 
to dwell in it. Henceforth they frequently sent am- 
bassadors to India to wait upon the king, which was 
now more easy of accomplishment, as the first mes- 
sengers guided them the shortest and straightest route. 
All knew that travelling in that country was rendered 
easier by swearing allegiance to his king and respect- 
ing his ambassadors. There was no occasion to in- 
quire why this homage was necessary, because it was 
patent that by this means he came into connexion 
with the monarch a most pleasing circumstance. 
Now these companions are the Children of Israel, the 

PART I 77 

first traveller is Moses, the later travellers are the 
prophets, whilst the Indian messengers are the She- 
kinah and the angels. The precious garments are the 
spiritual light which dwelt in the soul of Moses on 
account of his prophetship, whilst the visible light 
appeared on his countenance. The presents are the 
two tables with the Ten Commandments. Those in 
possession of other laws saw nothing of this, but were 
told : ' Continue in obedience to the King of India as 
this company of friends, and you will after death 
become the associates of the king, otherwise he will 
turn you away, and punish you after death.' Some 
might say : No one ever returned to inform us whether, 
after death, he dwelt in paradise or in hell. The 
majority were satisfied with the arrangement, which 
coincided with their views. They obeyed willingly, 
and allowed themselves to entertain a faint hope, 
which to all appearance was a very strong one, as 
they commenced to be proud and to behave 
haughtily towards other people. But how can they 
boast of expectations after death to those who enjoy 
the fulfilment already in life ? Is not the nature of the 
prophets and godly men nearer to immortality than 
the nature of him who never reached that degree ? 

110. Al Khazari : It does not agree with common 
sense that when man perishes, body and soul should 
disappear at the same time, as is the case with animals, 
and that the philosophers alone will as they believe 
escape. The same applies to the statement made 
by believers in other faiths that man, by the pro- 
nunciation of one word alone, may inherit paradise, 
even if, during the whole of his life, he knew no other 
word than this, and of this did not even understand 


the great significance, viz. that one word raised him 
from the ranks of a brute to that of an angel. He who 
did not utter this word would remain an animal, though 
he might be a learned and pious philosopher, who 
yearned for God all his life. 

111. The Kabbi : We do not deny that the good 
actions of any man, to whichever people he may belong, 
will be rewarded by God. But the priority belongs 
to people who are near God during their life, and we 
estimate the rank they occupy near God after death 

112. Al Khazari : Apply this also in the other direc- 
tion, and judge their degree in the next world according 
to their station in this world. 

113. The Rabbi : I see thee reproaching us with 
our degradation and poverty, but the best of other 
religions boast of both. Do they not glorify Him who 
said : He who smites thee on the right cheek, turn to 
him the left also ; and he who takes away thy coat, let 
him have thy shirt also. 27 He and his friends and 
followers, after hundreds of years of contumely, flog- 
ging and slaying, attained their well-known success, 
and just in these things they glorify. This is also 
the history of the founder of Islam and his friends, 
who eventually prevailed, and became powerful. The 
nations boast of these, but not of these kings whose 
power and might are great, whose walls are strong, and 
whose chariots are terrible. Yet our relation to God 
is a closer one than if we had reached greatness already 
on earth. 

114. Al Khazari : This might be so, if your humility 
were voluntary ; but it is involuntary, and if you had 
power you would slay. 

PART I 79 

115. The Rabbi : Thou hast touched our weak spot, 
King of the Khazars. If the majority of us, as thou 
sayest, would learn humility towards God and His law 
from our low station, Providence would not have forced 
us to bear it for such a long period. Only the smallest 
portion thinks thus. Yet the majority may expect a 
reward, because they bear their degradation partly 
from necessity, partly of their own free will. 
For whoever wishes to do so can become the friend 
and equal of his oppressor by uttering one word, and 
without any difficulty. Such conduct does not escape 
the just Judge. If we bear our exile and degradation 
for God's sake, as is meet, we shall be the pride of the 
generation which will come with the Messiah, and 
accelerate the day of the deliverance we hope for. 
Now we do not allow any one who embraces our re- 
ligion theoretically by means of a word alone to take 
equal rank with ourselves, but demand actual self- 
sacrifice, purity, knowledge, circumcision, and numerous 
religious ceremonies. The convert must adopt our 
mode of life entirely. We must bear in mind that the 
rite of circumcision is a divine symbol, ordained by 
God to indicate that our desires should be curbed, and 
discretion used, so that what we engender may be fitted 
to receive the divine Influence. God allows him who 
treads this path, as well as his progeny, to approach 
Him very closely. Those, however, who become Jews 
do not take equal rank with born Israelites, who are 
specially privileged to attain to prophecy, whilst the 
former can only achieve something by learning from 
them, and can only become pious and learned, but 
never prophets. As regards the promises at which 
thou art so astonished, our sages, long ago, gave de- 


scriptions of paradise and hell, their length and width, 28 
and depicted the enjoyments and punishments in 
greater detail than is given in any later religions. From 
the very beginning I only spoke to thee of what is 
contained in the books of the Prophets. 29 They, how- 
ever, do not discuss the promises of after-life with so 
much diffuseness as is done in the sayings of the Rabbis. 
Nevertheless the prophetic books allude to the return 
of the dust of the human body to the earth, whilst the 
spirit returns to the Creator who gave it. 30 They 
also mention the resurrection of the dead at some 
future time, the sending of a prophet called Elijah 
AlKhidr, 31 who had already been sent once, but who 
was taken away by God in the same way as an- 
other said that he never tasted death. The 
Torah contains the prayer of one who was specially 
privileged to become a prophet, and he prayed that his 
death might be made easy, and his end be as the end 
of the Children of Israel. 32 After the death of Samuel 
King Saul invoked his aid, and he prophesied for 
him concerning all that would happen to him in 
the same way as he had prophesied to him whilst 
living. 33 Although this action of Saul, viz. consulting 
the dead, is forbidden in our law, it shows that the 
people at the time of the prophets believed in the 
immortality of the soul after the decay of the body. 
For this reason they consulted the dead. All educated 
people, including women, know by heart the opening 
prayer of our morning liturgy, which runs as follows : 
Lord, the spirit which Thou hast breathed into me 
is hallowed ; Thou hast created it, Thou guardest it, 
and Thou wilt after a time take it from me, but wilt 
restore it to me in the other world. As long as it is 

PART I 81 

within me, I praise Thee, and am grateful to Thee, 
Lord of the universe. Praise be to Thee who restore th 
the spirit unto the dead. 34 The notion of ' Paradise ' 
itself, of which people often speak, is derived from the 
Torah, being the exalted abode which was intended 
for Adam. Had he not been disobedient, he would 
have remained in it for ever. Similarly ' Gehinnom ' 
was nothing but a well-known place near the Holy 
House, a trench in which the fire was never extin- 
guished, because unclean bones, carrion and other 
impurities used to be burned there. The word is a 
compound Hebrew one. 35 

116. Al Khazari : If that is so, then there has been 
nothing new since your religion was promulgated, 
except certain details concerning paradise and hell, 
their arrangement, and the repetition and enlargement 
of these. 

117. The Rabbi : Even this is not new either. The 
Rabbis have said so much on the subject that there is 
nothing thou couldst hear concerning it which could 
not be found in their writings, if thou didst but search 
for it. 


1. AFTER this the Khazari, as is related in the history 
of the Khazars, was anxious to reveal to his Vezier 
in the mountains of Warsan the secret of his dream and 
its repetition, in which he was urged to seek the God- 
pleasing deed. The king and his Vezier travelled to the 
deserted mountains on the sea shore, and arrived one 
night at the cave in which some Jews used to cele- 
brate the Sabbath. They disclosed their identity to 
them, embraced their religion, were circumcised in the 
cave, and then returned to their country, eager to 
learn the Jewish law. They kept their conversion 
secret, however, until they found an opportunity of 
disclosing the fact gradually to a few of their special 
friends. When the number had increased, they made 
the affair public, and induced the rest of the Khazars 
to embrace the Jewish faith. They sent to various 
countries for scholars and books, and studied the 
Torah. Their chronicles also tell of their prosperity, 
how they beat their foes, conquered their lands, secured 
great treasures ; how their army swelled to hundreds 
of thousands, how they loved their faith, and fostered 
such love for the Holy House that they erected a Taber- 
nacle in the shape of that built by Moses. They also 
honoured and cherished those born Israelites who lived 



among them. While the king studied the Torah and 
the books of the prophets, he employed the Rabbi as 
his teacher, and put many questions to him on Hebrew 
matters. The first of these questions referred to the 
names and attributes ascribed to God and their anthro- 
pomorphistic forms, which are unmistakeably objec- 
tionable alike both to reason and to law. 

2. Said the Rabbi : All names of God, save the 
Tetragrammaton, are predicates and attributive de- 
scriptions, derived from the way His creatures are affected 
by His decrees and measures. He is called merciful, if 
he improves the condition of any man whom people 
pity for his sorry plight. They attribute to Him mercy 
and compassion, although this is, in our conception, 
surely nothing but a weakness of the soul and a quick 
movement of nature. This cannot be applied to God, 
who is a just Judge, ordaining the poverty of one in- 
dividual and the wealth of another. His nature re- 
mains quite unaffected by it. He has no sympathy 
with one, nor anger against another. We see the same 
in human judges to whom questions are put. They 
decide according to law, making some people happy, 
and others miserable. He appears to us, as we observe 
His doings, sometimes a ' merciful and compassionate 
God,' (Exod. xxxiv. 6), sometimes ' a jealous and 
revengeful God ' (Nahum i. 2), whilst He never changes 
from one attribute to the other. All attributes (ex- 
cepting the Tetragrammaton) are divided into three 
classes, viz. creative, relative and negative. As regards 
the creative attributes, they are derived from acts 
emanating from Him by ways of natural medium, 1 e.g. 
making poor and rich, exalting or casting down, ' merciful 
and compassionate,' ' jealous and revengeful,' ( strong and 


almighty? and the like. As regards the relative attri- 
butes, viz. ' Blessed, praised, glorified, holy, exalted, 
and extolled,' they are borrowed from the reverence 
given to Him by mankind. However numerous these 
may be, they produce no plurality, as far as He is con- 
cerned, nor do they affect his Unity. As regards the 
negative attributes, such as ' Living, Only, First and 
Last,' they are given to Him in order to negative their 
contrasts, but not to establish them in the sense we 
understand them. For we cannot understand life 
except accompanied by sensibility and movement. 
God, however, is above them. We describe Him as 
living in order to negative the idea of the rigid and 
dead, since it would be an a priori conclusion that that 
which does not live is dead. This cannot, however, 
be applied to the intellect. One cannot, e.g. speak of 
time as being endowed with life, yet it does not 
follow that it is dead, since its nature has nothing to 
do with either life or death. In the same way one 
cannot call a stone ignorant, although we may say 
that it is not learned. Just as a stone is too low to 
be brought into connexion with learning or ignorance, 
thus the essence of God is too exalted to have anything 
to do with life or death, nor can the terms light or 
darkness be applied to it. If we were asked whether 
this essence is light or darkness, we should say light 
by way of metaphor, for fear one might conclude that 
that which is not light must be darkness. As a matter 
of fact we must say that only material bodies are sub- 
ject to light and darkness, but the divine essence is no 
body, and can consequently only receive the attributes 
of light or darkness by way of simile, or in order to 
negative an attribute hinting at a deficiency. Life 


and death are, therefore, only applicable to material 
bodies, whilst the divine essence is as much exempt 
from both as it is highly extolled above them. The 
' life ' of which we speak in this connexion is not like 
ours, and this is what I wish to state, since we cannot 
think of any other kind of life but ours. It is as if 
one would say : We know not what it is. If we say 
' living God ' and ' God of life ' (Ps. cvi. 28), it is but 
a relative expression placed in opposition to the gods 
of the Gentiles, which are ' dead gods ' from which no 
action emanates. In the same way we take the term 
One, viz. to negative plurality, but not to establish 
unity as we understand it. For we call a thing one, 
when the component parts are coherent and of the 
same materials, e.g. one bone, one sinew, one water, one 
air. In a similar way time is compared to a compact 
body, and we speak of one day, and one year. The 
divine essence is exempt from complexity and divisibil- 
ity, and ' one ' only stands to exclude plurality. In 
the same way [we style Him] ' First ' in order to 
exclude the notion of any later origin, but not to assert 
that He has a beginning ; thus also ' Last ' stands to 
repudiate the idea that His existence has no end, but 
not to fix a term for Him. All these attributes neither 
touch on the divine essence, nor do they lead us to 
assume a multiplicity. The attributes which are con- 
nected with the Tetragrammaton are those which 
describe His power of creating without any natural 
intermediaries, viz. Creator, Producer, Maker, ' To 
Him who alone doeth great wonders (Ps. cxxxvi. 4),' 
which means that [He creates] by His bare intention 
and will, to the exclusion of any assisting cause. This 
is perhaps meant in the word of the Bible : 'And I 


appeared unto Abraham . . . as El Shadddi ' (Exod. 
vi. 3), viz. in the way of power and dominion, as is 
said : * He suffered no man to do them wrong ; yea, He 
reproved kings for their sake ' (Ps. cv. 14). He did 
not, however, perform any miracle for the patriarchs 
as He did for Moses, saying : ' but my name J H W H 
was I not known to them ' (Exod. 1. c). This means 
by My name J H W H , since the beth in beel shadddi 
refers to the former. The wonders done for Moses and 
the Israelites left no manner of doubt in their souls that 
the Creator of the world also created these things which 
He brought into existence immediately by His will, as 
the plagues of Egypt, the dividing of the Red Sea, the 
manna, the pillar of a cloud, and the like. The 
reason of this was not because they were higher than 
the Patriarchs, but because they were a multitude, and 
had nourished doubt in their souls, whilst the patriarchs 
had fostered the utmost faith and purity of mind. If 
they had all their lives been pursued by misfortune, 
their faith in God would not have suffered. Therefore 
they required no signs. We also style Him wise of 
heart, because He is the essence of intelligence, and 
intelligence itself ; but this is no attribute. As to 
' Almighty,' this belongs to the creative attributes. 

3. Al Khazari : ' How dost thou explain those attri- 
butes which are even of a more corporeal nature than 
those, viz. seeing, hearing, speaking, writing the tablets, 
descending on mount Sinai, rejoicing in His works, 
grieved in His heart.' 

4. The Rabbi : Did I not compare him with a just 
judge in whose qualities no change exists, and from 
whose decrees result the prosperity and good fortune 
of people, so that they say that he loves them and 

PART n 87 

takes pleasure in them ? Others, whose fate it is to 
have their houses destroyed and themselves be annihi- 
lated, would describe Him as filled with hate and wrath. 
Nothing, however, that is done or spoken escapes Him, 
' He sees and hears ' ; the air and all bodies came into 
existence by His will, and assumed shape by His 
command, as did heaven and earth. He is also des- 
cribed as ' speaking and writing.' Similarly from the 
aethereal and spiritual substance, which is called ' holy 
spirit,' arose the spiritual forms called ' glory of God ' 
(Exod. xix. 20). Metaphorically He is called J H W H 
(ibid.) who descended on the mount Sinai. We 
shall discuss this more minutely when treating on 
metaphysics. 2 

5. Al Khazari : Granting that thou hast justified 
the use of these attributes, so that no idea of plurality 
need of necessity follow, yet a difficulty remains as 
regards the attribute of Will with which thou dost 
invest Him, but which the philosopher denies. 3 

6. The Rabbi : If no other objection is raised, 
except the Will, we will soon vindicate ourselves. 
We say : philosophers, what is it which in thy 
opinion made the heavens revolve continually, the 
uppermost sphere carrying the whole, without place 
or inclination in its movement, the earth firmly 
fixed in the centre without support or prop ; which fash- 
ioned the order of the universe in quantity, quality, 
and the forms we perceive ? Thou canst not help 
admitting this, for things did neither create them- 
selves nor each other. Now the same adapted the 
air to giving the sound of the Ten Commandments, and 
formed the writing engraved in the tables, call it will, 
or thing, or what thou wilt. 


7. Al Khazari : The secret of the attributes is now 
clear, and I understand the meaning of ' The Glory of 
God,' ' Angel of God,' and Shekhinah. They are names 
applied by the prophets to things perceptible, as * Pillar 
of Cloud,' 'Consuming Fire,' 'Cloud,' 'Mist, Fire, 
Splendour,' as it is said of the light in the morning, in 
the evening, and on cloudy days that the rays of light 
go forth from the sun, although it is not visible. Yet 
we say that the rays of light are inseparable from the 
sun, although in reality this is not so. It is the ter- 
restrial bodies which, being opposite to it, are affected 
by it, and reflect its light. 

8. The Rabbi : Even so does the glory of God, 
which is only a ray of the divine light, benefit His 
people in His country. 

9. Al Khazari : I understand what thou meanest by 
' His people,' but less intelligible is what thou sayest 
about ' His country.' 

10. The Rabbi : Thou wilt have no difficulty in 
perceiving that one country may have higher qualifica- 
tions than others. There are places in which par- 
ticular plants, metals, or animals are found, or where 
the inhabitants are distinguished by their form and 
character, since perfection or deficiency of the soul are 
produced by the mingling of the elements. 

11. Al Khazari : Yet I never heard that the inhab- 
itants of Palestine were better than other people. 

12. The Rabbi : How about the hill on which you 
say that the vines thrive so well ? If it had not been 
properly planted and cultivated, it would never pro- 
duce grapes. Priority belongs, in the first instance, 
to the people which, as stated before, is the essence and 
kernel [of the nations]. In the second instance, it 


would belong to "the country], on account of the religi- 
ous acts connected with it, which I would compare to 
the cultivation of the vineyard. No other place would 
share the distinction of the divine influence, just as no 
other mountain might be able to produce good wine. 

13. Al Khazari : How could this be ? In the time 
between Adam and Moses were not prophetic visions 
in other places granted to Abraham in Ur of the 
Chaldaeans, Ezekiel and Daniel at Babylon, and 
Jeremiah in Egypt ? 

14. The Rabbi : Whosoever prophesied did so either 
in the [Holy] Land, or concerning it, viz. Abraham in 
order to reach it, Ezekiel and Daniel on account of it. 
The two latter had lived during the time of the first 
Temple, had seen the Shekhinah, through the influence 
of which each one who was duly prepared became of 
the elect, and able to prophesy. Adam lived and died 
in the land. Tradition tells us that in the cave [of 
Machpelah] were buried the four pairs : Adam and Eve, 
Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeccah, Jacob and 
Leah. 4 This is the land which bore the name ' before 
the Lord,' and of which it is stated that ' the eyes of 
the Lord thy God are always upon it ' (Dent. xi. 12). 
It was also the first object of jealousy and envy be- 
tween Cain and Abel, when they desired to know which 
of them would be Adam's successor, and heir to his 
essence and intrinsic perfection ; to inherit the land, 
and to stand in connexion with the divine influence, 
whilst the other would be a nonentity. Then Abel 
was killed by Cain, and the realm was without an heir. 
It is stated that ' Cain ' went out of the presence of 
Lord (Gen. iv. 16), which means that he left the land, 
saying : ' Behold, Thou hast driven me out this day 


from the face of the earth, and from Thy face shall I 
be hid ' (ib. v. 14). In the same way is it said : ' But 
Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence 
of the Lord ' (Jonah i. 3), but he only fled from the 
place of prophecy. God, however, brought him back 
there out of the belly of the fish, and appointed him 
prophet in the land. When Seth was born he was 
like Adam, as it is said : * He begat in his own like- 
ness, after his image ' (Gen. v. 3), and took Abel's place, 
as it is said : For God has appointed me another seed, 
instead of Abel, whom Cain slew (ib. iv. 25). He 
merited the title : ' Son of God,' like Adam, and he had 
a claim on the land, which is the next step to paradise. 
The land was then the object of jealousy between Isaac 
and Ishmael, till the latter was rejected as worthless, 
although it was said concerning him : ' Behold, I have 
blessed him, and will multiply him exceedingly ' (ib. 
xvii. 20) in worldly prosperity ; but immediately after 
it is said : ' My covenant will I establish with Isaac ' 
(v. 21), which refers to his connexion with the divine 
influence and happiness in the world to come. Neither 
Ishmael nor Esau could boast of a covenant, although 
they were otherwise prosperous. Jealousy arose between 
Jcoob and Esau for the birthright and blessing, but Esau 
was rejected in favour of Jacob, in spite of his strength 
and the latter's weakness. Jeremiah's prophecy concern- 
ing Egypt was uttered in Egypt itself. This was also 
the case with Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Sinai and 
Paran are reckoned as belonging to Palestine, because 
they are on this side of the Red Sea, as it is said : ' And 
I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea, even unto the 
sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the 
river' (Exod. xxiii. 31). The 'desert' is that of 


Parun, c that great and terrible wilderness ' (Dent. i. 19), 
being the southern border. ' The fourth river is 
Euphrates ' (Gen. ii. 14), designates the northern 
border, where there were the altars of the Patriarchs, 
who were answered by fire from heaven and the divine 
light. The ' binding ' of Isaac took place on a desolate 
mountain, viz. Moriah. Not till the days of David, 
when it was inhabited, was the secret revealed that it 
was the place specially prepared for the Shekhinah. 
Araunah, the Jebusite, tilled his land there. Thus it 
is said : ' And Abraham called the name of the place, 
The Lord shall see, as it is said to this day, in the mount 
of the Lord it shall be seen ' (ib. xxii. 14). In the Book 
of the Chronicles it is stated more clearly that the 
Temple was built on mount Moriah. These are, with- 
out doubt, the places worthy of being called the gates 
of heaven. Dost thou not see that Jacob ascribed the 
vision which he saw, not to the purity of his soul, nor 
to his belief, nor to true integrity, but to the place, as 
it is said : ' How awful is this place ' (ib. xxviii. 17). 
Prior to this it is said : ' And he lighted upon a certain 
place ' (ver. 11), viz. the chosen one. Was not Abraham 
also, and after having been greatly exalted, brought 
into contact with the divine influence, and made the 
heart of this essence, removed from his country to the 
place in which his perfection should become complete ? 
Thus the agriculturer finds the root of a good tree in a 
desert place. He transplants it into properly tilled 
ground, to improve it and make it grow ; to change it 
from a wild root into a cultivated one. from one which 
bore fruit by chance only to one which produced a 
luxuriant crop. In the same way the gift of prophecy 
was retained among Abraham's descendants in Pales- 


tine, the property of many as long as they remained 
in the land, and fulfilled the required conditions, viz. 
purity, worship, and sacrifices, and, above all, the 
reverence of the Shekhinah. For the divine influence, 
one might say, singles out him who appears worthy of 
being connected with it, such as prophets and pious men, 
and is their God. Reason chooses those whose natural 
gifts are perfect, viz. Philosophers and those whose souls 
and character are so harmonious that it can find its 
dwelling among them. The spirit of life, pure and 
simple, is to be found in beings which are endowed with 
ordinary primary faculties, and particularly adapted 
to higher vitality viz. animals. Finally, organic life 
finds its habitat in a mixture of harmonious elements, 
and produces plant. 

15. Al Khazari : These are the general rules of a 
science which must be classified. This does not con- 
cern us now, and I will ask thee about it when we speak 
on ths subject. Continue thy discourse on the special 
advantages of the Land of Israel. 

16. The Rabbi : It was appointed to guide the 
world, and apportioned to the tribes of Israel from the 
time of the confusion of languages, as it is said : ' When 
the Most High divided among the nations their inheri- 
tance ' (Deut. xxxii. 8). Abraham was not fit to gain the 
divine influence, and to enter into a mutual compact, 
until he had, in Palestine, made the covenant with 
Him 'between the pieces' (Gen. xv. 17). What is 
now thy opinion of a select community which has 
merited the appellation ' people of God,' and also a 
special name called * the inheritance of God,' and of 
seasons fixed by Him, not merely agreed upon or settled 
by astronomical calculations, and therefore styled 


' feasts of the Lord.' The rules regarding purity and 
worship, prayers and performances, are fixed by God, 
and therefore called ' work of God ' and ' service of the 

17. Al Khazari : In such an arrangement the * glory 
of God was bound to become apparent. 

18. The Rabbi : Dost thou not see that even the 
land was given its Sabbaths, as it is said: 'Sabbath 
of the land' (Lev. xxv. 6), and ' The land shall keep a 
Sabbath unto the Lord ' (ibid. 2). It is forbidden to sell 
it for ever, as it is said : ' For Mine is the land ' (ver. 23). 
Observe that the ' feasts of the Lord ' and the ' Sab- 
baths of the land ' belong to the ' land of the Lord.' 

19. Al Khazari : Was not the day primarily calcu- 
lated as dawning first in China, because it forms the 
eastern commencement of the inhabited earth ? 

20. The Rabbi : The beginning of the Sabbath must 
be calculated from Sinai, or rather Alush, 5 where the 
Mannah first descended. Consequently Sabbath does 
not come in till the sun has set behind Sinai, and so on 
to the remote west, and round the globe to China, which 
is the extreme end of the inhabited earth. Sabbath 
begins in China eighteen hours later than in Palestine, 
since the latter lies in the centre of the world. 6 Sunset 
in Palestine, therefore, concurs with midnight in China, 
and midday in Palestine concurs with sunset in China. 
This is the problem of the system based on the eighteen 
hours in the [Talmudical] rule : If the conjunction of 
the moon takes place before midday, the new moon 
becomes visible near sunset. 7 

This refers to Palestine, the place where the law was 
given, and where Adam at the end of Sabbath was 
transferred from paradise. It is there where the 


calendar began after the six days of creation. Adam, 
then, began to name the days, as he did with all that 
dwelt on earth, and the following generations con- 
tinued counting in the same way. This is the reason 
why there is no difference among mankind about the 
seven days of the week, 8 which commenced at the hour 
when the inhabitants of the extreme west held noon. 
This was the hour of sunset for Palestine, 9 and at this 
moment the first light was created, 10 the sun being 
created later on. This first light was but an illumina- 
tion, which soon passed away, leaving the world in 
darkness. The established order was then that night 
preceded day, as it is written : ' It was evening and 
it was morning.' In the same manner the Torah 
ordained : 4 From evening unto evening ' (Lev. xxiii. 32). 
Do not quote against me those recent astronomers, the 
thieves of science, though their theft was uninten- 
tional. They found, however, their science in a pre- 
carious condition, since the eye of prophecy was stricken 
with blindness ; so they had recourse to speculation, 
and composed books on the strength of it. In con- 
tradistinction to the Torah, they considered China as 
the original home of the calculation of the days. The 
contrast is not, however, complete, because they agree 
with the Jewish theory in assuming the beginning of 
the break of the day to have taken place in China. 
The difference between our theory and theirs consists 
chiefly in the circumstance that we count the night 
before the day. The * eighteen ' hours must, conse- 
quently, be made the basis of the nomination of the 
days of the week. For there are six hours between 
Palestine, where the nomination of the days began, 
and the place of the sun at the time when nomination 


began. Thus the name of Sabbath, e.g. was employed 
for the beginning of the day on which the sun rose for 
the extreme west, whilst it set for Adam in Palestine. 
It kept the name ' beginning of Sabbath ' till the sun 
culminated for him eighteen hours later, when it was 
evening in China, and also beginning of the Sabbath. 
This was the extreme limit for the day to be called 
Sabbath, 11 because the region further on 12 is only 
called east of the place where the days began to be 
counted. A place must, however, exist which is at the 
same time extreme west and the beginning of east. This 
is, for Palestine, the beginning of the inhabited world, 
not only from the point of view of the law, but also 
from that of natural science. For it would be impos- 
sible for the days of the week to have the same names 
all over the world unless we fix one place which marks 
the beginning, and another one not far off, not that 
the one be merely an eastern point for the other, but 
that the one should be east absolute, and the other 
west absolute. If this were not so the days could not 
have definite names, since every point of the equator 
can be east or west at the same time. China would 
thus be east for Palestine, but west for the antipodal 
side. The latter would be east for China, but west for 
[what we call] west, and the last-named would be east 
for the antipodal side, but west for Palestine, and there 
would be neither east, nor west, nor beginning, nor 
end, nor definite names for the days. Adam, however, 
did give definite names to the days, taking Palestine 
for his starting-point, but each name spreads over a 
certain geographical latitude, because it is impossible 
to fix the horizon for every single point on earth 
Jerusalem itself would have many east and west points ; 


the east of Zion would not be also the east of the Temple, 
and their horizons, strictly speaking, different, though 
not noticeable to the eye. This would be the case in 
a greater degree between Damascus and Jerusalem, 
and we could not deny that in the former place Sab- 
bath commenced earlier than it does in the latter, and 
in Jerusalem sooner than it does in Egypt. A certain 
latitude must, therefore, be allowed. But the latitude 
in which differences in the nomination of the day be- 
come apparent amounts to eighteen hours, neither 
more nor less. The inhabitants of one meridian still call 
the day Sabbath, whilst those of another are past it, 
and so on till eighteen hours after the time when the 
Sabbath 13 began, and the sun culminated in Jeru- 
salem. It is then when the name Sabbath comes to 
an end. Therefore no one exists who would call the 
day Sabbath, but uses the name of the next day. This 
is meant by the words : If the conjunction takes place 
before noon, it is understood that the new moon is 
visible at sunset. In other words : If the Molad takes 
place before noon on the Sabbath in Jerusalem, it is 
understood that the new moon is visible on the Sab- 
bath at sunset. This is because the name Sabbath is 
retained for eighteen hours after the reason for so 
calling it had departed from the place where it had 
begun, and the sun a day and a night later culminates 
again in Palestine. The new moon is, therefore, bound 
to appear at the eastern border of China in the twilight 
of the Sabbath. This agrees with the rule of the sages : 
A night and a day are reckoned to the month. The 
name Sabbath gives place everywhere to Sunday, 
although Palestine had before that left Sabbath, and 
was in the midst of Sunday. The intention of [this 


rule] was that the name of the same day of the week 
should hold good all over the world, and the question 
could be put both to the inhabitants of China and the 
West : ' On which day did you celebrate the New 
Year ? ' The answer would be : 'On Sabbath.' This 
notwithstanding that the latter people had finished 
the feast, whilst the former, according to the geo- 
graphical position of their country towards Palestine, 
were still celebrating it. With regard to the name of 
the days of the week, they had both kept the same 

Thus does the knowledge of the c Sabbath of the Lord ' 
and the ' Festivals of the Lord ' depend upon the land 
which is the ' inheritance of the Lord,' and has, as thou 
didst read, the other names of ' His holy mountain ' 
(Ps. xcix. 9,), ' His footstool,' ib. 5 ' Gate of heaven' 
(Gen. xxviii. 7). ' For the law shall go forth from 
Zion ' (Micah iv. 2). [Thou didst also read] how the 
Patriarchs endeavoured to live in the country whilst 
it was in the hands of the pagans, how they yearned 
for it, and had their bones carried into it, as did Jacob 
and Joseph. Moses prayed to see it, and when this 
was denied to him, he considered it a misfortune. 
Thereupon it was shown to him from the summit of 
Pisgah, which was to him an act of grace. Persians, 
Indians, Greeks, and children of other nations begged 
to be allowed to offer up sacrifices, and to be prayed 
for in the holy Temple ; they spent their wealth at the 
place, though they believed in other laws not recog- 
nized by the Torah. They honour it to this day, 
although the Shekhinah no longer appears there. All 
nations make pilgrimages to it, long for it, excepting 
we ourselves, because we are punished and in disgrace. 



All tlie Rabbis tell of its great qualities would take too 
long to relate. 

21. Al Khazari : Let me hear a few of their ob- 

22. The Rabbi : One sentence is : All roads lead 
up to Palestine, but none from it. 14 Concerning 
a woman who refuses to go there with her husband, 
they decreed that she is divorced, and forfeits her 
marriage settlement. 15 On the other hand, if the 
husband refuses to accompany his wife to Palestine, 
he is bound to divorce her and pay her settlement. 
They further say : It is better to dwell in the Holy 
Land, even in a town mostly inhabited by heathens, 
than abroad in a town chiefly peopled by Israelites ; 
for he who dwells in the Holy Land is compared to him 
who has a God, whilst he who dwells abroad is com- 
pared to him who has no God. Thus says David : 
' For they have driven me out this day from abiding 
in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve other 
gods ' (1 Sam. xxvi. 19), which means that he who 
dwells abroad is as if he served strange gods. 16 To Egypt 
they ascribed a certain superiority over other coun- 
tries on the basis of a syllogism in the following way : 
If Egypt, with regard to which a covenant was made, 17 
is a forbidden land, other countries are still more so. 
Another saying is : To be buried in Palestine is as if 
buried beneath the altar. 18 They praise him who is 
in the land more than him who is carried thither dead. 
This is expressed thus : He who embraces it when 
alive is not like him who does so after his death. 19 
They say concerning him who could live there, but did 
not do so, and only ordered his body to be carried 
thither after his death : While you lived you made 

PART n 99 

Mine inheritance an abomination, but in death ' you 
come and contaminate my country' 20 (Jer. ii. 1). It 
is told that R. Hananyah, when asked whether it was 
lawful for a person to go abroad in order to marry the 
widow of his brother, said : His brother married a 
pagan woman ; praised be God who caused him to die ; 
now this one follows him. 21 The sages also forbade 
selling estates or the remains of a house to a 
heathen, 22 or leaving a house in ruins. Other sayings 
are : Fines can only be imposed in the land itself ; 23 
no slave must be transported abroad, 24 and many 
similar regulations. Further, the atmosphere of the 
Holy Land makes wise. 25 They expressed their love 
of the land as follows : He who walks four yards in the 
land is assured of happiness in the world to come, 26 
R. Zera said to a heathen who criticized his foolhardi- 
ness in crossing a river without waiting to reach a ford, 
in his eagerness to enter the land : How can the place 
which Moses and Aaron could not reach, be reached 
by me ? 27 

23. Al Khazari : If this be so, thou fallest short of 
the duty laid down in thy law, by not endeavouring to 
reach that place, and making it thy abode in life and 
death, although thou sayest : ' Have mercy on Zion, 
for it is the house of our life,' 28 and believest that the 
Shekhinah will return thither. And had it no other pre- 
ference than that the Shekhinah dwelt there five hundred 
years, this is sufficient reason for men's souls to retire 
thither and find purification there, as happens near the 
abodes of the pious and the prophets. Is it not ' the 
gate of heaven ' ? All nations agree on this point. 
Christians believe that the souls are gathered there and 
then lifted up to heaven. Islam teaches that it is the 


place of the ascent, 29 and that prophets are caused to 
ascend from there to heaven, and, further, that it is 
the place of gathering on the day of Resurrection. Every- 
body turns to it in prayer and visits it in pilgrimage. 
Thy bowing and kneeling in the direction of it is either 
mere appearance or thoughtless worship. Yet your 
first forefathers chose it as an abode in preference to 
their birth-places, and lived there as strangers, rather 
than as citizens in their own country. This they did 
even at a time when the Shekhinah was yet visible, but 
the country was full of unchastity, impurity, and 
idolatry. Your fathers, however, had no other desire 
than to remain in it. Neither did they leave it in times 
of dearth and famine except by God's permission. 
Finally, they directed their bones to be buried there. 

24. The Rabbi : This is a severe reproach, king of 
the Khazars. It is the sin which kept the divine pro- 
mise with regard to the second Temple, viz. : Sing and 
rejoice, daughter of Zion ' (Zech. ii. 10), from being 
fulfilled. Divine Providence was ready to restore every- 
thing as it had been at first, if they had all willingly 
consented to return. But only a part was ready to do 
so, whilst the majority and the aristocracy remained in 
Babylon, preferring dependence and slavery, and un- 
willing to leave their houses and their affairs. An allu- 
sion to them might be found in the enigmatic words of 
Solomon : I sleep, but my heart waketh (Song v. 2-4). 
He designates the exile by sleep, and the continuance 
of prophecy among them by the wakefulness of the 
heart. ' It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh ' 
means God's call to return ; ' My head is filled with 
dew ' alludes to the Shekhinah which emerged from the 
shadow of the Temple. The words : ' I have put off 

PART II 101 

my coat,' refer to the people's slothfulness in consenting 
to return. The sentence : ' My beloved stretcheth forth 
his hand through the opening ' may be interpreted as 
the urgent call of Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Prophets, 
until a portion of the people grudgingly responded to 
their invitation. In accordance with their mean mind 
they did not receive full measure. Divine Providence 
only gives man as much as he is prepared to receive ; 
if his receptive capacity be small, he obtains little, and 
much if it be great. Were we prepared to meet the 
God of our forefathers with a pure mind, we should find 
the same salvation as our fathers did in Egypt. If we 
say : ' Worship his holy hill worship at His footstool 
He who restoreth His glory to Zion' (Ps. xcix. 9, 5), and 
other words, this is but as the chattering of the starling 
and the nightingale. We do not realise what we say 
by this sentence, nor others, as thou rightly observest, 
Prince of the Khazars. 

25. Al Khazari : Enough on this subject. Now I 
should like an explanation of what I read about the 
sacrifices. Reason cannot accept such expressions as : 
My offering, My bread for My sacrifices made by fire, 
'for a sweet savour unto Me ' (Num. xxviii. 2), employed 
in connexion with the sacrifices, describing them as 
being God's offering, bread, and incense. 

26. The Rabbi : The expression : By My fires removes 
all difficulty. It states that offering, bread and sweet 
savour, which are ascribed to Me, in reality belong to 
My fires, i.e. to the fire which was kindled at God's 
behest, and fed by the offerings. The remaining pieces 
were food for the priests. The deeper signification of 
this was to create a well arranged system, upon which 
the King should rest in an exalted, but not local 


sense. As a symbol of the Divine Influence, con- 
sider the reasoning soul which dwells in the perishable 
body. If its physical and nobler faculties are properly 
distributed and arranged, raising it high above the animal 
world, then it is a worthy dwelling for King Reason, who 
will guide and direct it, and remain with it as long as 
the harmony is undisturbed. As soon, however, as this 
is impaired, he departs from it. A fool may imagine 
that Reason requires food, drink, and scents, because he 
sees himself preserved as long as these are forthcoming, 
but would perish if deprived of them. This is not the 
case. The Divine Influence is beneficent, and desirous 
of doing good to all. Wherever something is arranged 
and prepared to receive His guidance, He does not refuse 
it, nor withhold it, nor hesitate to shed light, wisdom, 
and inspiration on it. If, however, the order is dis- 
turbed, it cannot receive this light, which is, then, lost. 
The Divine Influence is above change or damage. All 
that is contained in the ' order of sacrificial service,' its 
proceedings, offerings, burning of incense, singing, eat- 
ing, drinking, is to be done in the utmost purity and 
holiness. It is called : ' Service of the Lord,' ' the bread 
of thy God ' (Num. viii. 11 ; Lev. xxi. 8), and similar 
terms which relate to his pleasure in the beautiful har- 
mony prevailing among the people and priesthood. He, 
so to say, accepts their hospitality and dwells among 
them in order to show them honour. He, however, is 
most Holy, and far too exalted to find pleasure in their 
meat and drink. It is for their own benefit, as is also 
the proper working order of the digestion in the stomach 
and liver. The nobler ingredients of the food go to 
strengthen the heart ; the best of all, the spirit. Not only 
are heart, mind, and brain regenerated by means of this 

PART II 103 

food, but also the digestive organs and all other organs 
through the strengthening matter which reaches them 
through the arteries, nerves and sinews. Altogether, 
this is so arranged and prepared, as to become fit to 
receive the guidance of the reasoning soul, which is an 
independent substance, and nearly approaches the 
angelic, of which it is stated : ' Its dwelling is not with 
flesh' (Dan. ii. 11). It inhabits the body as ruler 
and guide, not in the sense of space, nor does it partake 
of this food, because it is exalted above it. The Divine 
Influence only dwells in a soul which is susceptible to 
intellect, whilst the soul only associates with the warm 
vital breath. The latter must needs have a mainspring 
to which it is attached, as is the flame to the top of the 
wick. The heart is compared to the wick, and is fed by 
the flow of blood. Blood is produced by the digestive 
organs, and therefore requires the stomach, the liver, 
and lower organs. The heart, in the same way, re- 
quires the lungs, throat, nose, the diaphragm, and the 
muscles which move the muscles of the chest for breath- 
ing, as well as to keep in balance the temperature of the 
heart between the air which enters, and that which is 
expelled. It further requires for the removal of the 
food, refuse expelling forces, viz. the excretory and 
urinary organs. In this way the body is formed from 
all the component parts mentioned. It also requires 
organs of motion from place to place, in order to pro- 
cure its wants, to avoid that which is harmful, and to 
attract and to repel. It requires hands and feet, advisers 
who distinguish, warning against what is to be feared, 
and advising what is to be hoped for ; who keep account 
of what has taken place, and record what has passed, 
in order to recommend care or hope for future events. 


It requires the internal and external senses, the seat of 
which is in the head, and which are assisted by the 
functions of the heart. The whole body is thus har- 
moniously arranged, but under the control of the heart, 
which forms the primary home of the soul. Its localiza- 
tion in the brain is of secondary importance, the heart 
remaining its regulator. In exactly the same way is 
the living, godly people arranged, as Joshua said : ' Here- 
by shall ye know that the living God is among you ' 
(iii. 10). The fire was kindled by the will of God, when 
the people found favour in His sight, being a sign that 
He accepted their hospitality and their offerings. For 
the fire is the finest and noblest element beneath the 
sphere of the moon. Its seat is the fat and vapour of 
sacrifices, the smoke of the incense and oil, as it is the 
nature of fire to cling to fat and oil. So also does 
natural heat cling to the finest fatty globules of the 
blood. God commanded the construction of the altar 
burnt offerings, the Altar of Incense, and the candle- 
stick ; their holocausts, incense, and the lamp oil. As 
regards the altar of burnt offerings, it was destined to 
bear the visible fire, whilst the Golden Altar was re- 
served for the invisible and finer fire. The candlestick 
was to bear the light of wisdom and inspiration ; the 
table that of abundance and material provisions. The 
sages say : He who wishes to be wise must turn to the 
south ; he who wishes to be rich must turn to the 
north. 30 All these implements stood in the service of 
the Holy Ark and the Cherubim which occupied the 
place of the heart, and the lungs above it. The vessels, 
such as the laver and its foot, tongs, firepans, dishes, 
spoons, bowls, pots, and forks, etc., were all required. 
A place was wanted to house them, viz. the Tabernacle, 

PART II 105 

tent and cover, and the court of the Tabernacle with its 
appurtenances, as an enclosure for the whole. As 
bearers of the entire household God appointed the 
Levites, because they were nearest to Him, especially 
after the affair of the golden calf, as it is said : ' And all 
the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto Him ' 
(Exod. xxxii. 26). From among them He chose Elazar, 
the finest and noblest of them, as it is said : ' And to the 
office of Elazar the son of Aaron the priest [pertaineth] 
the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily 
meat offering, and the anointing oil ' (Numb. iv. 16) 
things to which the finer fire clings. The light of wis- 
dom, however, and inspiration was attached to the 
Urim and Tummim, as well as to the most select section 
of Levites, viz. the family of Kohath, who carried the 
appurtenances of the internal service : the Ark, Table, 
Candlestick, Altars, and the Holy Vessels ' with which 
they served.' With regard to them it is said : ' Because 
the service of the sanctuary belonged unto them, they 
should bear upon their shoulders ' (Num. vii. 9) just 
as the internal organs of the body are without bones 
which help to carry them, but are, themselves, borne by 
the innate powers in conjunction with all that belongs 
to them. Another branch of the children of Gershon 
bore the more delicate external appurtenances, viz. the 
carpets of the Tabernacle, the Tent and its cover, and 
the covering of badgers' skin that was above it. The 
lower section of the B'ne Merari bore the grosser utensils, 
viz. its hooks, 31 boards, bars, pillars, and sockets. The last 
two sections were aided in carrying their burden by hav- 
ing chariots, as it is said : ' Two wagons for the Gershoni 
and four wagons for Merari according to their service ' 
(Num. vii. 7-8). All this was systematically arranged 


by God. I do not, by any means, assert that the 
service was instituted in the order expounded by me, 
since it entailed something more secret and higher, and 
was based on a divine law. He who accepts this com- 
pletely without scrutiny or argument, is better off than 
he who investigates and analyses. He, however, who 
steps down from the highest grade to scrutiny, does well 
to turn his face to the latent wisdom, instead of leading 
it to evil opinions and doubts which lead to corruption. 

27. Al Khazari : Rabbi, thy symbolization was ex- 
cellent, but the head and its senses, as well as the anoint- 
ing oil were left unconsidered. 

28. The Rabbi : Quite so. The root of all knowledge 
was deposited in the Ark which took the place of the 
heart, viz. the Ten Commandments, and its branch is 
the Torah on its side, as it is said : ' Put it in the side 
of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God ' (Deut. 
xxxi. 26). From there went forth a twofold knowledge, 
firstly, the scriptural knowledge, whose bearers were 
the priests ; secondly, the prophetic knowledge which 
was in the hands of the prophets. Both classes were, 
so to speak, the people's watchful advisers, who com- 
piled the chronicles. They, therefore, represent the 
head of the people. 

29. Al Khazari : So you are to-day a body without 
either head or heart. 

30. The Rabbi : Thou sayest rightly, but we are not 
even a body, only scattered limbs, like the ' dry bones ' 
which Ezekiel saw [in his vision] (chap, xxxvii.). These 
bones, however, king of the Khazars, which have re- 
tained a trace of vital power, having once been the seat 
of a heart, brain, breath, soul, and intellect, are better 
than certain bodies formed of marble and plaster, en- 

PART II 107 

dowed with heads, eyes, ears, and all limbs, in which 
never dwelt the spirit of life, nor ever can dwell in them, 
since they are but imitations of man, not man in reality. 

31. Al Khazari : It is as thou sayest. 

32. The Rabbi : The ' dead ' nations which desire to 
be held equal to the ' living ' people can obtain nothing 
more than an external resemblance. They built houses 
for God, but no trace of Him was visible therein. They 
turned hermits and ascetics in order to secure inspira- 
tion, but it came not. They, then, deteriorated, became 
disobedient, and wicked ; yet no fire fell down from 
heaven upon them, nor rapid pestilence, as a manifest 
punishment from God for their disobedience. Their 
heart, I mean the house in which they used to meet, 
was destroyed, but otherwise their status was not 
affected. This could only take place in accordance 
with the largeness or smallness of their number, with 
their strength or weakness, disunion or unity, following 
upon natural or accidental causes. We, however, since 
our heart, I mean the Holy House, was destroyed, were 
lost with it. If it be restored, we, too, will be restored, 
be we few or many, or in whichever way this may hap- 
pen. For our master is the living God, our King, Who 
keeps us in this our present condition in dispersion and 

33. Al Khazari : Certainly. A similar dispersion is \ 
not imaginable in any other people, unless it became 
absorbed by another, especially after so long a period. 
Many nations which arose after you have perished 
without leaving a memory, as Edom, Moab, Ammon, 
Aran, the Philistines, Chaldaeans, Medians, Persians, 
and Javan, the Brahmans, Sabaeans, and many others. 

34. The Rabbi : Do not believe that I, though agree- 


ing with tliee, admit that we are dead. We still hold 
connexion with that Divine "Influence through the laws 
which He has placed as a link between us and Him. 
There is circumcision, of which it is said :' My covenant 
shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant ' (Gen. 
xvii. 13). There is further the Sabbath, ' It is a sign 
between me and you throughout your generations ' 
(Exod. xxxi. 13). Besides this there is ' the covenant of 
the Fathers,' and the covenant of the law, first granted 
on Horeb, and then in the plains of Moab in connexion 
with the promises and warnings laid down in the section : 
' When thou shalt beget children and grandchildren ' 
(Deut. iv. 25). Compare further the antithesis : ' If 
any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of 
heaven ' (chap. xxx. 10) ; ' Thou shalt return unto the 
Lord thy God ' (ibid. 2), finally, the song : ' Give ear ' 
(chap, xxxii. 1 ) ; and other places. We are not like 
dead, but rather like a sick and attenuated person who 
has been given up by the physicians, and yet hopes for 
a miracle or an extraordinary recovery, as it is said : 
' Can these bones live \ ' (Ezek. xxxvii. 3). Compare 
also the simile in the words : ' Behold my servant shall 
prosper ' ; 'He has no form nor comeliness,' ' Like one 
from whom men hid their faces ' (Is. lii. 13 ; which 
means that he is, on account of his deformity and 
repulsive visage, compared to an unclean thing, 
which man only beholds with disgust, and turns 
away ; ' Despised and rejected of men,' ' A man of 
sorrows and acquainted with grief ' liii. 3). 

35. Al Khazari : How can this serve as a comparison 
for Israel, as it is said : ' Surely he has borne our 
griefs ? ' That which has befallen Israel has come to 
pass on account of its sins. 

PART II 109 

36. The Rabbi : Israel amidst the nations is like 
heart amidst the organs of the body ; it is at one and r 
the same time the most sick and the most healthy of 

37. Al Khazari : Make this a little clearer. 

38. The Rabbi : The heart is exposed to all sorts of 
diseases, and frequently visited by them, such as sad- 
ness, anxiety, wrath, envy, enmity, love, hate, and fear. 
Its temperament changes continually, undulating be- 
tween excess and deficiency, and moreover influenced 
by inferior nourishment, by movement, exertion, sleep, 
or wakefulness. They all affect the heart whilst the 
limbs rest. 

' 39. Al Khazari : Now I understand how it can be 
the most sick and most healthy of all organs simul- 

40. The Rabbi : Is it possible that it could suffer 
from swelling, or a cancer, or boils, a wound, weakness, 
and asthma, as is possible in other organs ? 

41. Al Khazari : Impossible. For the smallest trace 
of these would bring on death. Its extreme sensibility, 
caused by the purity of its blood, and its great intelli- 
gence causes it to feel the slightest symptom, and expels 
it as long as it is able to do so. The other organs lack 
this fine sensibility, and it is therefore possible that they 
can be affected by some strange matter which produces 

42. The Rabbi : Thus its sensibility and feeling ex- 
pose it to many ills, but they are at the same time the 
cause of their own expulsion at the very beginning, and 
before they have time to take root. 

43. Al Khazari : Quite so. 

44. The Rabbi : Our relation to the Divine Influence 


is the same as that of the soul to the heart. For this 
reason it is said : ' You only have I known of all the 
families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all 
your inquities ' (Amos iii. 2). These are the illnesses. 
As regards its health, it is alluded to in the words of the 
sages : He forgives the sins of his people, causing the 
first of them to vanish first. 32 He does not allow our 
sins to become overwhelming, or they would destroy us 
completely by their multitude. Thus he says : ' For 
the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full ' (Gen. xv. 
16). He left them alone till the ailment of their sins 
had become fatal. Just as the heart is pure in sub- 
stance and matter, and of even temperament, in order 
to be accessible to the intellectual soul, so also is Israel 
in its component parts. In the same way as the heart 
may be affected by disease of the other organs, viz. the 
lusts of the liver, stomach and genitals, caused through 
contact with malignant elements ; thus also is Israel 
exposed to ills originating in its inclinings towards the 
Gentiles. As it is said : ' They were mingled among 
the heathens and learned their works ' (Ps. cvi. 35). 
Do not consider it strange if it is said in the same sense : 
4 Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows ' 
(Is. liii. 4). Now we are burdened by them, whilst the 
whole world enjoys rest and prosperity. The trials 
which meet us are meant to prove our faith, to cleanse 
us completely, and to remove all taint from us. If we 
are good, the Divine Influence is with us in this world. 
Thou knowest that the elements gradually evolved 
metals, plants, animals, man, finally the pure essence of 
man. The whole evolution took place for the sake of 
this essence, in order that the Divine Influence should 
inhabit it. That essence, however, came into existence 

PART II 111 

for the sake of the highest essence, viz. the prophets and 
pious. A similar gradation can be observed in the 
prayer : ' Give thy fear, Lord our God, over all Thy 
works.' Then : ' Give glory to Thy people ' ; finally : 
4 The pious shall see and rejoice,' 33 because they are the 
purest essence. 

45. AlKhazari: Thy interesting comparison has com- 
pletely riveted my attention. But I should expect to 
see more hermits and ascetics among you than among 
other people. 

46. The Rabbi : I regret that thou hast forgotten 
those fundamental principles in which thou didst con- 
cur. Did we not agree that man cannot approach God 
except by means of deeds commanded by him ? Dost 
thou think that this can be gained by meekness, humility, 
etc., alone ? 

47. Al Khazari : Certainly, and rightly so. I think I 
read in your books as follows : ' What doth the Lord thy 
God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God ' (Deut. 
x. 12) and ' What doth the Lord require of thee ' (Mic. 
vi. 8), and many similar passages ? 

48. The Rabbi : These are the rational laws, being 
the basis and preamble of the divine law, preceding it 
in character and time, and being indispensable in the 
administration of every human society. Even a gang of 
robbers must have a kind of justice among them if their 
confederacy is to last. When Israel's disloyalty had 
come to such a pass that they disregarded rational and 
social principles (which are as absolutely necessary for 
a society as are the natural functions of eating, drinking, 
exercise, rest, sleeping, and waking for the individual), 
but held fast to the sacrificial worship and 'other divine 
laws, He was satisfied with even less. It was told to 


them : ' Haply you might observe those laws which 
rule the smallest and meanest community, such as refer 
to justice, good actions, and recognition of God's bounty.' 
For the divine law cannot become complete till the social 
and rational laws are perfected. The rational law de- 
mands justice and recognition of God's bounty. What 
has he, who fails in this respect, to do with offerings, 
Sabbath, circumcision, etc., which reason neither de- 
mands, nor forbids ? These are, however, the ordina- 
tions especially given to Israel as a corollary to the 
rational laws. Through this they received the advan- 
tage of the Divine Influence, without knowing how it 
came to pass that the ' Glory of God ' descended upon 
them, and that ' the fire of God ' consumed their offer- 
ings ; how they heard the allocution of the Lord ; and 
how their history developed. These are matters which 
reason would refuse to believe if they were not guaranteed 
by irrefutable evidence. In a similar sense it was said 
to them : ' What doth the Lord thy God require of 
thee ? ' (Deut. x. 12) and ' Add your burnt offerings ' 
(Jer. vii. 21), and similar verses. Can it be imagined 
that the Israelites observe ' the doing of justice and the 
love of mercy,' but neglect circumcision, Sabbath, and 
the other laws, and felt happy withal ? 

49. Al Khazari : After what thou hast said I should 
not think so. In the opinion of philosophers, however, 
he becomes a pious man who does not mind in which 
way he approaches God, whether as a Jew or a Christian, 
or anything else he chooses. Now we have returned to 
reasoning, speculating and dialectics. According ot 
this everyone might endeavour to belong to a creed 
dictated by his own speculating, a thing which would 
be absurd. 

PART II 113 

50. The Rabbi : The divine law imposes no asceticism 
on us. It rather desires that we should keep the equi- 
poise, and grant every mental and physical faculty its 
due, as much as it can bear, without overburdening one 
faculty at the expense of another. If a person gives 
way to licentiousness he blunts his mental faculty ; he 
who is inclined to violence injures some other faculty. 
Prolonged fasting is no act of piety for a weak person 
who, having succeeded in checking his desires, is not 
greedy. For him feasting is a burden and self-denial. 
Neither is diminution of wealth an act of piety, if 
it is gained in a lawful way, and if its acquisition does 
not interfere with study and good works, especially for 
him who has a household and children. He may spend 
part of it in almsgiving, which would not be displeasing 
to God ; but to increase it is better for himself. Our 
law, as a whole, is divided between fear, love, and joy, 
by each of which one can approach God. Thy contri- 
tion on a fast day does nothing the nearer to God than 
thy joy on the Sabbath and holy days, if it is the out- 
come of a devout heart. Just as prayers demand devo- 
tion, so also is a pious mind necessary to find pleasure 
in God's command and law ; that thou shouldst be 
pleased with the law itself from love of the Lawgiver. 
Thou seest how much He has distinguished thee, as if 
thou hadst been His guest invited to His festive board. 
Thou thankest Him in mind and word, and if thy joy 
lead thee so far as to sing and dance, it becomes worship 
and a bond of union between thee and the Divine Influ- 
ence. Our law did not consider these matters optional, but 
laid down decisive injunctions concerning them, since it 
is not in the power of mortal man to apportion to each 
faculty of the soul and body its right measure, nor to 



decide what amount of rest and exertion is good, or to de- 
termine how long the ground should be cultivated till it 
finds rest in the years of release and jubilee, or the amount 
of tithe to be given, etc. God commanded cessation of 
work on Sabbath and holy days, as well as in the culture 
of the soil, all this ' as a remembrance of the exodus from 
Egypt,' and ' remembrance of the work of creation.' 
These two things belong together, because they are the 
outcome of the absolute divine will, but not the result 
of accident or natural phenomena. It is said : ' For 
ask now of the days that are past Did ever a people 
hear the voice of God Or hath God assayed,' etc. 
(Deut. iv. 32 sqq.). The observance of the Sabbath is 
itself an acknowledgment of His omnipotence, and at 
the same time an acknowledgment of the creation by 
the divine word. He who observes the Sabbath because 
the work of creation was finished on it acknowledges the 
creation itself. He who believes in the creation believes 
in the Creator. He, however, who does not believe in 
it falls a prey to doubts of God's eternity and to doubts 
of the existence of the world's Creator. The observance 
of the Sabbath is therefore nearer to God than monastic 
retirement and ascetism. Behold how the Divine In- 
fluence attached itself to Abraham, and then to all those 
who shared his excellence and the Holy Land. This In- 
fluence followed him everywhere, and guarded his pos- 
terity, preventing the detachment of any of them, it 
brought them to the most sheltered and best place, and 
caused them to multiply in a miraculous manner, 'and 
finally raised them to occupy a degree worthy of such 
excellence. He is, therefore, called : ' God of Abraham ' 
(Gen. xxviii. 13),'God of the land' (1 Sam.iv.4),'Dwelling 
between the Cherubim ' (Ps. ix. 12), ' Dwelling in Zion ' 

PART II 115 

(Ps. cxxxv. 21), ' Abiding in Jerusalem ' (Ps. cxxiii. 1), 
these places being compared to heaven, as it is said : 
8 Dwelling in heaven ' (Ps. cxxiii. 1). His light shines in 
these places as in heaven, although through mediums 
which are fit to receive this light. He sheds it upon 
them, and this it is that is called love. It has been taught 
us, and we have been enjoined to believe in it, as 
well as to praise and thank Him in the prayer : " With 
eternal love Thou lovest us " ; so that we should bear in 
mind that it originally came from Him, but not from us. 
To give an instance, we do not say that an animal 
created itself, but that God formed and fashioned it, 
having selected the proper matter for it. In the same 
manner it was He who initiated our delivery from Egypt 
to be His people and to acknowledge Him as king, as He 
said : ' I am the Lord your God who led you out of the 
land of Egypt to be unto you a God ' 34 (Lev. xxii. 33, 
Num. xv. 41). He also says: '0 Israel, in whom I will 
be glorified ' (Is. xlix. 3). 

51. Al Khazari : This sentence seems to go too far, 
and is overbold in expressing that the Creator is glorified 
through mortal man. 

52. The Rabbi : Wouldst thou find this less strange 
in the creation of the sun ? 

53. Al Khazari : Certainly, on account of its great 
power. Next to God it is the cause of being. By its 
means night and day and the seasons of the year are 
determined ; minerals, metals, plants, and animals were 
developed through its instrumentality. Its light pro- 
duced sight and colours. Wherefore should not the 
action of such a thing be an object of glory among men ? 

54. The Rabbi : Are not the intellectual faculties 
much finer than the light that is seen ? Or were not 


the inhabitants of the earth prior to the Israelites in 
blindness and error excepting those few whom I men- 
tioned ? 35 Some people said that there was no Creator ; 
that no part of the world was more worthy of being 
created than being creator, the universe being eternal. 
Others say that the spheres are eternal and creative. 
They consequently adore them. Others again assert 
that the fire is the essence of light and all the miraculous 
products of its power ; it must, therefore, be worshipped. 
The soul also is fire. Others worship different things, 
viz. sun, moon, stars, and animal forms, which are in 
connexion with special phenomena. Other people 
adore their kings and sages. They all, however, agree 
that there is nothing in the world which is contrary to 
nature, nor is there any Providence. Even philosophers 
who, with their refined intuition and clear view, acknow- 
ledge a Prime Cause different from earthly things and 
unparalleled, are inclined to think that this Prime Cause 
exercises no influence on the world, and certainly not on 
individuals, as he is too exalted to know them, much 
less to make them the basis of a new entity. The com- 
munity was at last considered sufficiently pure for the 
light to dwell on it, to be worthy of seeing miracles 
which changed the course of nature, and to understand 
that the world had a King who watched and guarded it, 
who knew both great and small, rewarded the good and 
the wicked, and directed the hearts. All who came 
after these philosophers could not detach themselves 
from their principles, so that to-day the whole civilized 
world acknowledges that God is eternal, and that the 
world was created. They look upon the Israelites and 
all that befell them as a proof of this. 

55. Al Khazari : This is glory indeed, and an extra- 

PART II 117 

ordinary proof. It is justly written : ' To make Himself 
an everlasting name ' (Is. Ixiii. 12), ' So didst Thou get 
Thee a name as it is this day ' (Neh. ix. 10), and ' In 
praise, in name, and in honour ' (Deut. xxvi. 19). 

56. The Rabbi : Didst thou not see how David intro- 
duces the praise of the Torah, when he first speaks of 
the sun in the words : ' The heavens declare the glory 
of God ' (Ps. xix. 2). He describes how ubiquitous its 
light, how pure its body, how steady its path, and beau- 
tiful its countenance. This is followed by the words : 
' The law of the Lord is perfect ' (ver. 7), etc., as if he 
wished to convey that one should not wonder at such a 
description. For the Torah is more pure, more resplen- 
dent, more widely known, more exalted, and more use- 
ful still. If there were no Israelites there would be no 
Torah. They did not derive their high position from 
Moses, but Moses received his for their sake. The 
divine love dwelt among the descendants of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob. The choice of Moses, however, was 
made in order that the good fortune might come to 
them through his instrumentality. We are not called 
the people of Moses, but the people of God, as it is said : 
' The people of the Lord ' (Ezek. xxxvi. 20) and ' The 
people of the God of Abraham ' (Ps. xlvii. 10). Proof 
of the Divine Influence is not found in well chosen words, 
in raising the eyebrows, closing the eyes during prayers, 
contrition, movement, and talk behind which there are 
no deeds ; but a pure mind, illustrated by corresponding 
actions which, by their very nature, are difficult to per- 
form, and are yet performed with the utmost zeal and 
love. It is to be found in one who, wherever he may, 
strives to reach the chosen place three times a year, and 
bearing with the greatest pleasure and joy all fatigues 


and expenses connected therewith. He pays the ' first 
tithe,' and the ' second tithe,' and the ' poor tithe,' and 
the expenses connected with his apparel for the Temple. 
He renounces the harvest in the years of release and 
jubilee, incurs expense for a tabernacle, holy days, and 
abstention from work ; gives the first fruits, the first- 
born animals, priests' emoluments, the first of the shear- 
ing, and the first of the dough, apart from vows and 
free gifts, and fines connected with intentional and un- 
intentional sins, and peace offerings. Further offerings 
due on account of private happenings, impurity, child- 
bed, issue, leprosy, and many other things. All this is 
regulated by divine command, without [human] specu- 
lation. It is not possible for man to determine the 
relative importance of each, and he need not fear 
any deterioriation in them. It is as if He assessed 
Israel, and measured them as well as the harvests of 
Palestine as regards vegetable and animal life. He also 
considered the tribe of Levi, and ordained these asses - 
ments in the desert, because he knew that, as long as 
they were not infringed, Israel would retain its surplus, 
and the Levite would not be in want. It never could 
come to such a pass that a tribe or family would be 
reduced to poverty, because he ordained the return of the 
whole property in the year of jubilee in the same status 
as it was in the first year of the distribution of the land. 
The details of these regulations would fill volumes. He 
who studies them carefully will see that they are not of 
human origin. Praised be He who has contrived them : 
' He hath not dealt so with any nation ; they are judg- 
ments which they knew not' (Ps. cxlvii. 20). This 
arrangement lasted during the periods of both Temples 
for about 1,300 years, and had the people remained in 

PART II 119 

the straight path, it would have been ' as the days of 
the heaven on earth ' (Deut. xi. 20). 

57. Al Khazari : At present you are in great confusion 
concerning those heavy duties. What nation could 
observe such regulations ? 

58. The Rabbi : The community whose guardian and 
compensator is always in its midst I mean God. Joshua 
said : ' You cannot serve the Lord, for He is an holy 
God' (chap. xxiv. 19). Notwithstanding this, his com- 
munity was so zealously observing that, in the matter of 
the trespass of ' the devoted thing of Jericho,' not more 
than the one, Achan, was found disobedient among more 
than six hundred thousand. The punishment followed 
immediately, just as it did in the case of Miriam, who 
was afflicted with leprosy ; also in the cases of Uzzah, 
Nadab and Abihu, and the people of Beth-Shemesh, who 
were punished because they had ' looked into the ark 
of the Lord ' (1 19). It was one of the wonder- 
ful traits of God that His displeasure for minor trans- 
gressions was shown on the walls of houses and in the 
clothes, whilst for more grievous sins the bodies were 
more or less severely stricken. The priests were ap- 
pointed to study this profound science and to discover 
to what extent these trials were God's punishment (this 
often took them weeks to find out, as was the case with 
Miriam), or how much was simply constitutionally cur- 
able or incurable. This is an abstruse science to which 
God pointed in the words : ' Take heed in the plague of 
leprosy, that thou observe diligently and do according 
to all that the priests, the Levites, shall teach you ' 
(Deut. xxiv. 8). 

59. Al Khazari : Hast thou a satisfactory argument 
on the matter ? 


60. The Rabbi : I told thee that there is no compari- 
son to be made between our intelligence and the Divine 
Influence, and it is proper that we leave the cause of 
these important things unexamined. I take, however, 
the liberty of stating though not with absolute cer- 
tainty that leprosy and issue are occasionally the con- 
sequence of contamination by corpses. A dead body 
represents the highest degree of malignancy, and a 
leprous limb is as if dead. It is the same with lost 
cnrepua, because it had been endowed with living power, 
capable of engendering a human being. Its loss, there- 
fore, forms a contrast to the living and breathing, and 
on account of its ideal potentiality only affects noble 
minds and highly strung souls which incline towards 
the divine, prophetic, visionary, and towards genuine 
imagination. There are people who feel depressed as 
long as they have not purified themselves after such an 
accident. Experience has taught them that their touch 
deteriorates such fine things as pearls and wine. Most 
of us feel influenced by the vicinity of dead bodies and 
graves, and our spirits are depressed as long as we find 
ourselves in a house in which there is a corpse. Those 
of coarser mould remain untouched. We see the same 
in intellectual matters. He who seeks purity of thought 
in philosophic studies, or purity of soul in prayer, feels 
uncomfortable in the association with women and scof- 
fers, or during the recitation of jocular or love songs. 

61. Al Khazari : This explains to me why the physical 
birthright, viz. the crTre^^a, contaminates, though being 
wholly spiritual, whilst other excreta do not do so, in 
spite of their repulsive aspect, odour, and quantity. 
Now I should still like to hear the explanation of the 
leprosy of the garment and the house. 

PART II 121 

62. The Rabbi : I mentioned that as one of the cha- 
racteristics of the Shekhinah, that it occupies in Israel 
the same place as the spirit of life in the human body. 
It granted them a divine life, and allowed them to find 
lustre, beauty, and light in their souls, bodies, disposi- 
tions, and houses. When it was absent from them, 
their intelligence waned, their bodies deteriorated, and 
their beauty faded. The effect of the disappearance of 
the divine light became noticeable in every individual. 
One can easily see how the breath of a person is sud- 
denly lost through fear and sorrow, whereby the body 
also suffers. On women and boys who go out at night 
one may sometimes see black and green marks, the 
result of their weak nerves. This is attributed to 
demons, but diseases of body and mind are often pro- 
duced by the sight of people who have died or were 

63. Al Khazari : I perceive that your law comprises 
all sorts of profound and strange sciences, not to be 
found in other codes. 

64. The Rabbi : The members of the Synhedrion 
were bound not to let any science, real and fictitious, or 
conventional, escape their knowledge, magic and lan- 
guage included. How was it possible at all times to 
find seventy scholars unless learning was common 
among the people ? If one elder died, another of the 
same stamp succeeded him. This could not be otherwise, 
as all branches of science were required for the practice 
of the law. Natural sciences was wanted for agriculture, 
in order to recognise ' mingled seed,' to be careful with 
the produce of the seventh year and of newly planted 
trees, to distinguish the various kinds of plants, that their 
nature might be preserved, and one species be not mixed 


up with another. It is difficult enough to know whether 
chondrosis a kind of barley, or spelt, a kind of wheat, 
or brassica is a kind of cabbage ; to study the 
powers of their roots and how far they spread in the 
ground ; how much of it remains for the following year, 
and how much does not remain ; how much space and 
time is to be left between each species. Further, the 
distinction of the various species of animals served 
various purposes, among which is to know which com- 
municates poison and which not. 36 With this is con- 
nected the knowledge of injuries which make an animal 
unlawful for food. This is even more profound than 
what Aristotle wrote on the subject, viz. how to know 
which injuries are fatal and thus to deter people from 
eating carrion. The small remnant of this knowledge 
which has remained makes us wonder. Add to this 
the acquaintance with the blemishes which disqualify 
priests from taking part in the Temple service, as well 
as of the blemishes which prohibit the offering up of 
certain animals as sacrifices. Then there is the know- 
ledge of the various kinds of issue and of the period of 
purification. All this requires instruction. Man is not 
able to determine these matters by reflection alone, with- 
out divine assistance. 37 The same is the case with the 
knowledge of the revolutions of the spheres, of which 
the yearly calendar is but one fruit. The excellence of 
the calculation of the calendar is famous, and it is well 
known what deep root it has taken among these people, 
few in number, yet excellently equipped with model insti- 
tutions. Could it be otherwise ? On account of the small- 
ness, humbleness, and dispersion of the people it is hardly 
noticed among the other nations, yet those relics of the 
Divine made it into one firmly established organization. 

PART II 123 

The calendar, based on the rules of the revolution of the 
moon, as handed down by the House of David, is truly 
wonderful. Though hundreds of years 38 have passed, 
no mistake has been found in it, whilst the observa- 
tions of Greek and other astronomers are not faultless. 
They were obliged to insert corrections and supplements 
every century, whilst our calendar is always free from 
error, as it rests on prophetic tradition. Had there 
been the smallest flaw in a fundamental rule this would 
to-day have assumed serious proportions, on account of 
the time difference between the conjunction of the moon 
and the moment when she becomes visible. In the 
same manner our sages were, without doubt, acquainted 
with the movements of the sun and astronomy in general. 
Music was the pride of a nation which distributed their 
songs in such a way that they fell to the lot of the 
aristocracy of the people, viz. the Levites, who made 
practical use of them in the holy house and in the holy 
season. For their maintenance they were satisfied with 
the tithes, as they had no occupation but music. As an 
art it is highly esteemed among mankind, as long as it 
is not abused and degraded, and as long as the people 
preserves its original nobleness and purity. David 
and Samuel were its great masters. Dost thou think 
that they understood it well or not ? 

65. Al Khazari : There can be no doubt that their art 
was most perfect, and touched the souls, as people say 
that it changes the humour of a man's soul to a different 
one. It is impossible that it should now reach the 
same high level. It has deteriorated, and servants and 
half -crazy people are its patrons. Truly, Rabbi, it sank 
from its greatness, as you have sunk in spite of your 
former greatness. 


66. The Rabbi : What is thy opinion of Solomon's 
accomplishments ? Did he not, with the assistance of 
divine, intellectual, and natural power, converse on 
all sciences ? The inhabitants of the earth travelled to 
him, in order to carry forth his learning, even as far 
as India. Now the roots and principles of all sciences 
were handed down from us first to the Chaldaeans, 
then to the Persians and Medians, then to Greece, and 
finally to the Romans. 39 On account of the length of 
this period, and the many disturbing circumstances, it 
was forgotten that they had originated with the Hebrews, 
and so they were ascribed to the Greeks and Romans. 
To Hebrew, however, belongs the first place, both as 
regards the nature of the languages, and as to fullness 
of meanings. 

67. Al-Khazari : Is Hebrew superior to other lan- 
guages ? Do we not see distinctly that the latter are 
more finished and comprehensive ? 

68. The Rabbi : It shared the fate of its bearers, 
degenerating and dwindling with them. Considered 
historically and logically, its original form is the noblest. 
According to tradition it is the language in which God 
spoke to Adam and Eve, and in which the latter con- 
versed. It is proved by the derivation of Adam from 
adamah, ishshah from ish ; Jiayyah from hayy ; Cain 
from qdnithl ; Sheth from shdth, and Noah from y e nah, 
menu. This is supported by the evidence of the Torah. 
The whole is traced back to Eber, Noah and Adam. It is 
the language of Eber after whom it was called Hebrew* 
because after the confusion of tongues it was he who 
retained it. Abraham was an Aramaean of Ur Kasdim, 
because the language of the Chaldaeans was Aramaic. 
He employed Hebrew as a specially holy language and 

PART II 125 

Aramaic for everyday use. For this reason Ishmael 
brought it to the Arabic speaking nations, and the 
consequence was that Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew are 
similar to each other in their vocabulary, grammatical 
rules, and formations. The superiority of Hebrew is 
manifest from the logical point of view if we consider 
the people who employed it for discourses, particularly 
at the time when prophecy was rife among them, also 
for preaching, songs and psalmody. It is conceivable 
that their rulers such as for instance, Moses, Joshua, 
David, and Solomon lacked the words to express what 
they wished, as it is the case with us to-day, because it 
is lost to us ? Dost thou not see how the Torah, when 
describing the Tabernacle, Ephod and breastplate and 
other objects, always finds the most suitable word for 
all these strange matters ? How beautifully is this 
description composed ? It is just the same with the 
names of people, species of birds and stones, the diction 
of David's Psalms, the lamentations of Job, and his 
dispute with his friends, the addresses of Isaiah, etc. 

69. Al-Khazari : Thou wilt only succeed in placing 
it on a par with other languages thus. But where is its 
pre-eminence ? Other languages surpass it in songs 
metrically constructed and arranged for tunes. 41 

70. The Rabbi : It is obvious that a tune is inde- 
pendent of the metre, or of the lesser or greater 
number of syllables. The verse hodu Icfdonai Jci tob can, 
therefore, be sung to the same tune as l e dse nifldoth 
g e doloih Vbaddo. This is the rule in sentences in which 
the tune must follow the grammatical construction. 
Rhymed poems, however, which are recited, and in 
which a good metre is noticeable, are neglected for some- 
thing higher and more useful. 


71. Al-Khazari : And what may that be ? 

72. The Rabbi : The faculty of speech is to transmit 
the idea of the speaker into the soul of the hearer. Such 
intention, however, can only be carried out to per- 
fection by means of oral communication. This 
is better than writing. The proverb is : ' From the 
mouths of scholars, but not from the mouth of books.' 
Verbal communication finds various aids either in 
pausing or continuing to speak, according to the require- 
ments of the sentence, by raising or lowering the voice, 
in expressing astonishment, question, narrative, desire, 
fear or submission by means of gestures, without which 
speech by itself would remain inadequate. Occasionally 
the speaker even has recourse to movements of eyes, 
eyebrows, or the whole head and hands, in order to 
express anger, pleasure, humility or haughtiness to the 
degree desired. In the remnant of our language which 
was created and instituted by God, are implanted subtle 
elements calculated to promote understanding, and to 
take the place of the above aids to speech. These are the 
accents with which the holy text is read. They denote 
pause and continuation, they separate question from 
answer, the beginning from the continuation of the 
speech, haste from hesitation, command from request, 
on which subject books might be written. He who 
intends to do this must omit poetry, because it can only 
be recited in one way. For it mostly connects when it 
should stop and stops where it should go on. One 
cannot avoid this except with great trouble. 

73. Al-Khazari : It is but proper that mere beauty 
of sound should yield to lucidity of speech. Harmony 
pleases the ear, but exactness makes the meaning clear. 
I see, however, that you Jews long for a prosody, in 

PART II 127 

imitation of other peoples, in order to force the Hebrew 
language into their metres. 

74. The Rabbi : This is because we remained and are 
froward. Instead of being satisfied with the superiority 
mentioned above, we corrupted the structure of our 
language, which is built on harmony, and created dis- 

75. Al-Khazari : How so ? 

76. The Rabbi : Didst thou not see that a hundred 
persons read the Torah as one person, stopping in one 
moment, and continuing simultaneously ? 

77. Al-Khazari I have, indeed, observed this, and 
never saw the like of it either among Persians or Arabs. 
It is impossible in the recitation of a poem. Now I 
should like to know how the Hebrew language obtained 
that advantage, and how the metre interferes with 

78. The Rabbi : The reason is that you can put to- 
gether two [vowelless] consonants, 42 but not three 
vowels, 43 except in rare cases. 44 This not only gives 
the speech a rest, but enables it to obtain that ad- 
vantage, viz. consonance and fluency in reading. This 
makes learning by heart and the grasping of the mean- 
ing easy. The first thing which destroys metrical 
reading is the relation of those two consonants. 45 Correct 
accentuation becomes impossible, so that tikhldh (food) 
is read like okh'lah (she is eating); timro (his word) 
and dmeru (they have spoken) have metrically the same 
value as omer (speaking) and omer (word). Thus 
also the time difference between shdbti, which is past 
tense, and w e shabti, which is future, lost. We might 
find a way out of this difficulty if we followed the ways 
of the Piyyut 47 which does not interfere with the Ian- 


guage, and merely employs the rhyme. But in matters 
of poetry, the same befell us which befell our forefathers, 
concerning whom it is written : ' They mingled among 
the gentiles and learned their works '(Ps. cvi. 35). 

79. Al-Khazari : I should like to ask whether thou 
knowest the reason why Jews move to and fro when 
reading the Bible ? 

80. The Rabbi : It is said that it is done in order to 
arouse natural heat. My personal belief is that it 
stands in connexion with the subject under discussion. 
As it often happened that many persons read at the 
same time, it was possible that ten or more read from 
one volume. This is the reason why our books are so 
large. Each of them was obliged to bend down in his 
turn in order to read a passage, and to turn back again. 
This resulted in a continual bending and sitting up, the 
book lying on the ground. This was one reason. Then 
it became a habit through constant seeing, observing 
and imitating, which is in man's nature. Other people 
read each out of his own book, either bringing it near 
to his eyes, or, if he pleased, bending down to it without 
inconveniencing his neighbour. There was, therefore, 
no necessity of bending and sitting up. We will now 
discuss the importance of the accents, the orthographic 
value of the seven principal vowel signs, the gram- 
matical accuracy resulting from them as well as from 
the distinction between Qames, Patali, Sere and Segol. 
They influence the meaning of grammatical forms and 
assist in distinguishing between past and future 
tenses e.g., *n?> and W'B>I and ing^l and irD'pfcO. 
(Is. li. 2, and Gen. xxvii, 33) ; or between a verb and an 
adjective, e.g. D?n and Dpn ; between the interro- 
gative He and the article, as in 'tffpfa N'n 

PART II 129 

(Eccl. iii. 21), and other cases. The euphony and 
structure of speech is increased by the sequence of two 
vowelless consonants, which enables a whole congre- 
gation to read Hebrew simultaneously without mistakes. 48 
Other rules apply to the musical acents. For the vowel 
sounds are divided in Hebrew into three classes, 49 
viz. U -sound, A -sound, and I -sound ; or in another 
division : great U-sound, or Qdmes, medium U-sound, 
or Jfolem ; little U-sound, or Shureq ; great A -sound, or 
Patah, ; little A-sound or Segol ; great I-sound or 
Sere ; little I-sound, or Hireq. Shewa 50 is sounded with 
all these [vowels] under certain conditions. It is 
vowel absolute, 51 because any addition would require 
a vowelless consonant to follow. Qdmes is followed 
by a long closed syllable, but not by dagesh in the first 
form. 52 Dagesh can only follow, if demanded by the 
exigencies of the second or third forms, the syllable 
being long, by one of the vowel letters alef or he, as 
in K~a and nip. A syllable of this kind can also 
end in a vowelless consonant, as in DNp (Hos. x. 14). 53 
IJolem also can be followed by a vowel letter which is 
wdw or alef as in t6 and i!?, or a syllable of this kind 
can be closed by a consonant as "ii&j> and t>Kbfe>. The 
vowel letters after $ere are 54 alef or yod as in KV1 11 and 
*KW. He, however, only in the second form, but 
not in the first. 55 Shureq is free 66 for all three forms. It 
can be followed by a vowel letter, or dagesh, or vowelless 
consonant. Its long vowel is expressed by wdw only 
as, 1^5, \\hh and nph. ffireq follows the rule of 
Shureq as in f^>, ^ and ^h. Patafy, and Segol are 
not followed by a vowel letter in the first form, but are 
lengthened by the second form, either for the sake of 
emphasis, 57 or on account of the accent, or in the pause 



at the end of a sentence. 58 The rules of the -first form 
are obtained by considering the formation of each word 
separately, without any relation to the construction 
of the sentence with its variety of combination and 
separation, and long and short words. Then are 
obtained the seven principal vowels in their original, 
unchanged form and the simple Shewa without gctya. 
The second form deals with euphony in the construction 
of sentences. Occasionally elements of the first form 
are altered to please the second. The third form con- 
cerns the accents, and sometimes reacts on both pre- 
ceding ones. In the first form three consecutive 
vowels without an intervening consonant or dagesh are 
possible, but three, or more, short vowels may follow 
each other as in Arabic. This, however, is impossible 
in the second form. As soon as three vowels follow 
each other in the first form, the second one lengthens 
one of them to the quantity of a long vowel as in 'JDB>, 
^3^, nan (Ps. xxxi. 12 ; Esth. i. 6). For Hebrew 
does not allow three consecutive 59 vowels, except when 
a consonant is either repeated as in "pns? 60 (Cant. vii. 3), 
or in the case of gutturals as in nna and bru, the 
reader being at liberty to read [the first syllable] long 
or short. In the same way the first form allows the 
sequence of two long closed syllables. The second 
form, however, to prevent clumsiness of speech, shortens 
one long syllable as in *n> and TOPI. It is obvious 
that the pronunciation of ^ra and similar forms is 
contrary to its vocalisation, the second syllable being 
lengthened in spite of the Patafr, whilst the first is 
read short in spite of the Qames. The heightening of the 
second syllable is due to the tone, but not to make 
it slightly longer. Words as *bn&& and 4rn$B (Gen. 

PART IT 131 

xx. 5 ; xxi. 6) remain therefore in the first form, 
because the smaller word has the tone. We also find 
^JfB with two Qames though in the past tense. The 
cause of this is to be found in the athndh or sof pasuq, 61 
and we say that this is possible in the second form on 
account of the pause. We follow this up till we find 
even ^ya with two Qames and zaqef. 62 The reason 
of this we find in a virtual pause, the word being entitled 
to athndh or sof pasuq, but other cogent reasons made 
athndh and sof pasuq in this case impossible. On, 'the 
other hand we find these two accents with two patafrs, 
however strange this may be, e.g. *W1, 'rupn, nannprn, 
^?.l. The reason of patab in IONI is found in 
examining its meaning, as it cannot stand in pause, 
and is necessarily connected with the following com- 
plement of the sentence. 63 There are only a few ex- 
ceptions as io ifc?&o, (Gen. xxi. 1), because the 
verb completes the sentence logically, and can take 
Qames because of the pause. 

As regards, however, ^i and nrat?m, they should 
originally be "fcl and n3"i3fc?ni ; but the transforma- 
tion of the I -sound with great Patalj, 64 , without any 
intermediate element, was too awkward, and there- 
fore Patah stepped in. The form rupT belongs 
probably to the same class, because the root is |j?.t, the 
Sere being changed into Fatal?, at the end of a sentence. 
We marvel why the ^? forms have the accent on the 
first syllable which is read long, although it has Segol. 
We must, however, consider that, if the first^syllable 
remained short, Hebrew phonology would require the 
second syllable to be read long and with accent, and a 
slight quiescent would creep in between the second and 
third radicals. This would be inelegant, which is not the 


case in the first syllable, which must have this quiescent 
and has also room for it. This lengthening of the 
penultima corresponds to ^ JD, but not to *?v |B. 
For when the word has athnalj, or sof pasuq, it is hvz 
corresponding to hy }KQ. This shows the necessity 
of lengthening the vowel in ^n> and *nEK>. We 
consider forms like TM? and "iw hkewise strange, 
because the Fatah of the first syllable is read long. 
We soon discover, however, that they are hv forms 
with Patafr on account of the guttural. For this rea- 
son they undergo no change in the status constructus, 
as do -iru and ^np (Gen. xv. 18; Exod. xii. 6), 
which are formed like inn. Then we find nWK, 
nw, m:iN and njpx with Segol and vowel letters. 
If we consider the first instance, we find it to be a form 
^UBK, ^ua% the second radical not being long, but 
always forming a closed syllable with Patah. We are 
now to read n^UN instead of Patah, because no A- 
sound can precede a silent he, unless it be Qames. 
Qames is long, whilst the second radical of a verb can 
never have a long vowel, except when read with a vowel, 
or when followed by Alef as in KVK. It is for this 
reason that nfeWN is read with Segol which is the shortest 
vowel imaginable, but interchanges with Sere when 
the second form requires to replace the one by the other 
at the ends of sentences. There is almost no necessity 
for the he of n^UK except in the pause or with the 
accent, and is eased by dagesh as in "^-nSWK and faton, 
(Exod. xxxiii. 5), in which cases the he has no function. 
This is not the case [withtf] ingVK, &OK. In ^'N3^ 
there is no dagesh, the N being preceded by ere and 
being a radical. He, however, is considered to be so 
weak that it is both graphically and phonetically 

PART II 133 

omitted in |m, jp^i and t?m. How could it, then, 
close a syllable vocalized by ere ? 65 It was, therefore, 
left to Segol, the slightest vowel, at all events, in the 
first form. The second form changed it into Sere, when 
standing in pause. 66 It appears likewise strange that 
n&oo, nt?yo, ropo and similar forms have ere in the 
construct state, but Segol in the absolute. We should 
think the reverse to be correct. 67 But if we consider 
that the third radical, viz. a silent He is treated as 
altogether absent, and those nouns have the forms of 
&no, two, |po, nothing but Segol will serve till some cir- 
cumstances bring it out with a long vowel as in n$no, 
ngwo, jivaoo and |nwo. Segol becomes Sere to take 
the place of [small] Patafr in DJOD and pbro. Words 
of the first form can be altered by the second as 
to the vowels, but not as to the pronunciation. The 
word p has ere in the absolute state, Segol in the 
construct. Occasionally the latter is lengthened by 
the tone as in "V^-p (Esth. ii. 5) with the Segol of 
the first form In other cases the tone precipitates 
it, although it has Sere according to the first form, 
as in "iriN 13 (Gen. xxx. 24). In segolate forms with 
the accent on the last syllable ere is no longer per- 
plexing. The author of this profound science held 
secrets which are unknown to us. We may have 
discovered some by means of which he intended to 
stimulate our investigation as we have said above, with 
regard to rbmh ion nbwn. Or we might find out the 
rules of distinguishing between past and future, in- 
finitive and participle of the passive voice, e.g. *00^8 SJD&O 
(Gen. xlix. 29), with Qames, and PDM ip&w (Num. xxvii. 
13) with Patah. The masoretic text vocalizes three 
times Dn&i (Lev. viii. 15, 19, 23), with Qames, although 


syntactically speaking the words stand only vir- 
tually in pause. There are many instances that the 
Segol after Zarqa has the force of Athnalj, or sof 
pasuk, or Zakef , causing an alteration of the first form. 
If I wished to enlarge oji the subject, the book would 
become too lengthy. I only desired to give thee a taste 
of this profound study, which is not built on hap -hazard, 
but on fixed rules. 

81. Al Khazari : This is sufficient to enlighten me 
on the wonderful character of the Hebrew language. 
Now I desire the description of a servant of God accord- 
ing to your conception. Afterwards I will ask thee for 
thy arguments against the Karaites. Then I should 
like to hear the principal articles of faith and religious 
axioms. Finally I wish to know which branches of 
ancient study have been preserved among you. 

Finished is the second part, and we begin 


THE RABBI : According to our view a servant of 
God is not one who detaches himself from the 
world, lest he be a burden to it, and it to him ; 
or hates life, which is one of God's bounties 
granted to him, as it is written : ' The number of 
thy days I will fulfil ' ; ' Thou shalt live long ' (Exod. 
xxiii. 26). On the contrary, he loves the world and a 
long life, because it affords him opportunities of deserv- 
ing the world to come. The more good he does the 
greater is his claim to the next world. He even reaches 
the degree of Enoch, concerning whom it is said : ' And 
Enoch walked with God ' (Gen. v. 24) ; or the degree of 
Elijah, freed from worldly matters, and to be admitted 
to the realm of angels. In this case he feels no loneli- 
ness in solitude and seclusion, since they form his asso- 
ciates. He is rather ill at ease in a crowd, because he 
misses the divine presence which enables him to dis- 
pense with eating and drinking. Such persons might 
perhaps be happier in complete solitude ; they might 
even welcome death, because it leads to the step beyond 
which there is none higher. Philosophers and scholars 
also love solitude to refine their thoughts, and to reap 
the fruits of truth from their researches, in order that all 
remaining doubts be dispelled by truth. They only 
desire the society of disciples who stimulate their re- 



search and retentiveness, just as he who is bent upon 
making money would only surround himself with per- 
sons with whom he could do lucrative business. Such 
a degree is that of Socrates and those who are like him. 
There is no one nowadays who feels tempted to strive 
for such a degree, but when the Divine Presence was 
still in the Holy Land among the people capable of pro- 
phecy, some few persons lived an ascetic life in deserts 
and associated with people of the same frame of mind. 
They did not seclude themselves completely, but they 
endeavoured to find support in the knowledge of the 
Law and in holy and pure actions which brought them 
near to that high rank. These were the disciples of 
prophets. He, however, who in our time, place, and 
people, ' whilst no open vision exists ' (1 Sam. iii. 1), the 
desire for study being small, and persons with a natural 
talent for it absent, would like to retire into ascetic 
solitude, only courts distress and sickness for soul and 
body. The misery of sickness is visibly upon him, but 
one might regard it as the consequence of humility and 
contrition. He considers himself in prison as it were, 
and despairs of life from disgust of his prison and pain, 
but not because he enjoys his seclusion. How could it 
be otherwise ? 1 He has no intercourse with the divine 
light, and cannot associate himself with it as the pro- 
phets. He lacks the necessary learning to be absorbed 
in it and to enjoy it, as the philosophers did, all the rest 
of his life. Suppose he is God-fearing, righteous, de- 
sires to meet his God in solitude, standing, humbly and 
contritely, reciting as many prayers and supplications 
as he possibly can remember, all this affords him satis- 
faction for a few days as long as it is new. Words fre- 
quently repeated by the tongue lose their influence on 


the soul, and he cannot give to the latter humbleness 
or submission. Thus he remains night and day, whilst 
his soul urges him to employ its innate powers in seeing, 
hearing, speaking, occupation, eating, cohabitation, gain, 
managing his house, helping the poor, upholding the law 
with money in case of need. Must he not regret those 
things to which he has tied his soul, a regret which tends 
to remove him from the Divine Influence, which he 
desired to approach ? 

2. Al Khazari : Give me a description of the doings 
of one of your pious men at the present time. 

3. The Rabbi : A pious man is, so to speak, the 
guardian of his country, who gives to its inhabitants 
provisions and all they need. He is so just that he 
wrongs no one, nor does he grant anyone more than his 
due. Then, when he requires them, he finds them 
obedient to his call. He orders, they execute ; he for- 
bids, they abstain. 

4. Al Khazari : I asked thee concerning a pious man, 
not a prince. 

5. The Rabbi : The pious man is nothing but a prince 
who is obeyed by his senses, and by his mental as well 
as his physical faculties, which he governs corporeally, 
as it is written : ' He that ruleth his spirit [is better] 
than he that taketh a city ' (Prov. xvi. 32). He is fit to 
rule, because if he were the prince of a country he would 
be as just as he is to his body and soul. He subdues his 
passions, keeping them in bonds, but giving them their 
share in order to satisfy them as regards food, drink, 
cleanliness, etc. He further subdues the desire for 
power, but allows them as much expansion as avails 
them for the discussion of scientific or mundane views, 
as well as to warn the evil-minded. He allows the 


senses their share according as he requires them for the 
use of hands, feet, and tongue, as necessity or desire 
arise. The same is the case with hearing, seeing, and 
the kindred sensations which succeed them ; imagina- 
tion, conception, thought, memory, and will power, 
which commands all these ; but is, in its turn, sub- 
servient to the will of intellect. He does not allow any 
of these limbs or faculties to go beyond their special 
task, or encroach upon another. If he, then, has satis- 
fied each of them (giving to the vital organs the neces- 
sary amount of rest and sleep, and to the physical ones 
waking, movements, and worldly occupation), he calls 
upon his community as a respected prince calls his dis- 
ciplined army, to assist him in reaching the higher or 
divine degree which is to be found above the degree of 
the intellect. He arranges his community in the same 
manner as Moses arranged his people round Mount Sinai. 
He orders his will power to receive every command 
issued by him obediently, and to carry it out forthwith. 
He makes faculties and limbs do his bidding without 
contradiction, forbids them evil inclinations of mind and 
fancy, forbids them to listen to, or believe in them, until 
he has taken counsel with the intellect. If he permits 
they can obey him, but not otherwise. In this way 
his will power receives its orders from him, carrying them 
out accordingly. He directs the organs of thought and 
imagination, relieving them of all worldly ideas men- 
tioned above, charges his imagination to produce, with 
the assistance of memory, the most splendid pictures 
possible, in order to resemble the divine things sought 
after. Such pictures are the scenes of Sinai, Abraham 
and Isaac on Moriah, the Tabernacle of Moses, the 
Temple service, the presence of God in the Temple, and 


the like. He, then, orders his memory to retain all 
these, and not to forget them ; he warns his fancy and 
its sinful prompters not to confuse the truth or to trouble 
it by doubts ; he warns his irascibility and greed not to 
influence or lead astray, nor to take hold of his will, nor 
subdue it to wrath and lust. As soon as harmony is 
restored, his will power stimulates all his organs to obey 
it with alertness, pleasure, and joy. They stand with- 
out fatigue when occasion demands, they bow down 
when he bids them to do so, and sit at the proper 
moment. The eyes look as a servant looks at his 
master, the hands drop their play and do not meet, the 
feet stand straight, and all limbs are as frightened and 
anxious to obey their master, paying no heed to pain or 
injury. The tongue agrees with the thought, and does 
not overstep its bounds, does not speak in prayer in a 
mere mechanical way as the starling and the parrot, 
but every word is uttered thoughtfully and attentively. 
This moment forms the heart and fruit of his time, 
whilst the other hours represent the way which leads to 
it. He looks forward to its approach, because while it 
lasts he resembles the spiritual beings, and is removed 
from merely animal existence. Those three times of 
daily prayer are the fruit of his day and night, and the 
Sabbath is the fruit of the week, because it has been 
appointed to establish the connexion with the Divine 
Spirit and to serve God in joy, not in sadness, as has 
been explained before. All this stands in the same 
relation to the soul as food to the human body. Prayer 
is for his soul what nourishment is for his body. The 
blessing of one prayer lasts till the time of the next, 
just as the strength derived from the morning meal lasts 
till supper. The further his soul is removed from the 


time of prayer, the more it is darkened by coming in 
contact with worldly matters. The more so, as neces- 
sity brings it into the company of youths, women, or 
wicked people ; when one hears unbecoming and soul- 
darkening words and songs which exercise an attraction 
for his soul which he is unable to master. During prayer 
he purges his soul from all that passed over it, and pre- 
pares it for the future. According to this arrangement 
there elapses not a single week in which both his soul 
and body do not receive preparation. Darkening ele- 
ments having increased during the week, they cannot 
be cleansed except by consecrating one day to service 
and to physical rest. The body repairs on the Sabbath 
the waste suffered during the six days, and prepares 
itself for the work to come, whilst the soul remembers 
its own loss through the body's companionship. He cures 
himself, so to speak, from a past illness, and provides 
himself with a remedy to ward off any future sickness. 
This is almost the same as Job did with his children 
every week, as it is written : ' It may be that my sons 
have sinned ' (Job i. 5). He, then, provides himself with 
a monthly cure, which is ' the season of atonement for 
all that happened during this period,' viz. the duration 
of the month, and the daily events, as it is written : 
* Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth ' (Prov. 
xxvii. 1) He further attends the Three Festivals and 
the great Fast Day, on which some of his sins are atoned 
for, and on which he endeavours to make up for what 
he may have missed on the days of those weekly and 
monthly circles. His soul frees itself from the whisper- 
ings of imagination, wrath, and lust, and neither in 
thought or deed gives them any attention. Although 
his soul is unable to atone for sinful thoughts the re- 


suit of songs, tales, etc., heard in youth, and which 
cling to memory it cleanses itself from real sins, 
confesses repentance for the former, and undertakes to 
allow them no more to escape his tongue, much less to 
put them into practice, as it is written : ' I am pur- 
posed that my mouth shall not transgress ' (Ps. xvii. 3). 
The fast of this day is such as brings one near to the 
angels, because it is spent in humility and contrition, 
standing, kneeling, praising and singing. All his physi- 
cal faculties are denied their natural requirements, being 
entirely abandoned to religious service, as if the animal 
element had disappeared. The fast of a pious man is 
such that eye, ear, and tongue share in it, that he regards 
nothing except that which brings him near to God. 
This also refers to his innermost faculties, such as mind 
and imagination. To this he adds pious works. 

6. Al Khazari : Dost thou refer to deeds generally 
known ? 

7. The Rabbi : The social and rational laws are those 
generally known. The divine ones, however, which 
were added in order that they should exist in the people 
of the ' Living God ' who guides them, were not known 
until they were explained in detail by Him. Even those 
social and rational laws are not quite known, and though 
one might know the gist of them, their scope remains 
unknown. We know that the giving of comfort and the 
feeling of gratitude are as incumbent on us as is chasten- 
ing of the soul by means of fasting and meekness ; we 
also know that deceit, immoderate intercourse with 
women, and cohabitation with relatives are abominable ; 
that honouring parents is a duty, etc. The limitation 
of all these things to the amount of general usefulness 
is God's. Human reason is out of place in matters of 


divine action, on account of its incapacity to grasp 
them. Reason must rather obey, just as a sick person 
must obey the physician in applying his medicines and 
advice. Consider how little circumcision has to do with 
philosophy, and how small is its social influence. Yet 
Abraham, in spite of the hardship the very nature of 
this command must have seemed at his age, subjected 
his person and children to it, and it became the sign of 
the covenant, of the attachment of the Divine Influence 
to him, as it is written : ' And I will establish My cove- 
nant between me and thee and thy seed after them in 
their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a 
God unto thee . . . ' (Gen. xvii. 7). 

8. Al Khazari : You accepted this command in a 
proper manner indeed, and you perform it publicly with 
the greatest zeal and readiness, praising it and express- 
ing its root and origin in the formula of blessing. Other 
nations may desire to imitate you, but they only have 
the pain without the joy la which can only be felt by him 
who remembers the cause for which he bears the pain. 

9. The Rabbi : Even in other instances of imitation 
no people can equal us at all. Look at the others who 
appointed a day of rest in the place of Sabbath. Could 
they contrive anything which resembles it more than 
statues resemble living human bodies ? 

10. Al Khazari : I have often reflected about you 
and come to the conclusion that God has some secret 
design in preserving you, and that He appointed the 
Sabbath and holy days among the strongest means of 
preserving your strength and lustre. The nations broke 
you up and made you their servants on account of your 
intelligence and purity. They would even have made 
you their warriors were it not for those festive seasons 


observed by you with so much conscientiousness, be- 
cause they originate with God, and are based on such 
causes as ' Remembrance of the Creation,' ' Remem- 
brance of the exodus from Egypt,' and ' Remembrance 
of the giving of the Law.' These are all divine com- 
mands, to observe which you are charged. Had these 
not been, not one of you would put on a clean garment ; 
you would hold no congregation to remember the law, 
on account of your everlasting affliction and degrada- 
tion. Had these not been, you would not enjoy a single 
day in your lives. Now, however, you are allowed to 
spend the sixth part of life in rest of body and soul. 
Even kings are unable to do likewise, as their souls have 
no respite on their days of rest. If the smallest business 
calls them on that day to work and stir, they must move 
and stir, complete rest being denied to them. Had 
these laws not been, your toil would benefit others, 
because it would become their prey. Whatever you 
spend on these days is your profit for this life and the 
next, because it is spent for the glory of God. 

11. The Rabbi : The observant among us fulfils those 
divine laws, viz. circumcision, Sabbath, holy days, and 
the accessories included in the divine law. He refrains 
from forbidden marriages, using mixtures in plants, 
clothes and animals, keeps the years of release and 
jubilee, avoids idolatry and its accessories, viz. discover- 
ing secrets only accessible by means of the Urim and 
the Thummim, or dreams. He does not listen to the 
soothsayer, or astrologer, or magician, augur or necro- 
mancer. He keeps the regulations concerning issue, of 
eating and touching unclean animals and lepers ; ab- 
stains from partaking of blood and forbidden fat, 
because they form part of the ' five offerings of the Lord.' 


He observes the sacrifices ordained for intentional and 
unintentional transgressions ; the duty of redeeming the 
first-born of man and beast. He brings the offerings for 
every child born to him, and whenever he is purged from 
issue and leprosy ; pays the various kinds of tithes, visits 
the Holy Land three times in the year ; observes the 
rules of the Paschal lamb with all accessories, as it is c a 
sacrifice of the Lord ' incumbent upon every freeborn 
Israelite. He observes the laws of the tabernacle, the 
palm branch and Shof ar, and takes care of the holy and 
pure implements required for the offerings. He observes 
the sacrifices for his own purification, as also the regula- 
tion of the corner, the ' Orlah,' and [the fruits] holy to 
praise the Lord therewith. In short, he observes as 
many of the divine commands as to justify him in 
saying : ' I have not transgressed one of Thy commands, 
nor forgotten ' (Deut. xxvi. 13). There are further to 
be added vows and free gifts, peace offerings and self- 
denials. These are the religious laws, most of which 
are performed in connexion with the priestly service. 
The social laws are such as the following : * Thou shalt 
not murder,' ' Thou shalt not commit adultery, steal, 
give false testimony against thy neighbour,' ' Honour- 
ing thy parents,' ' You shall love the stranger,' ' You 
shall not speak untruth and not lie ' ; such as concern 
the avoidance of usury, the giving of correct weights and 
measures ; the gleanings to be left, such as the forgotten 
grapes, the corners, etc. The ethical laws are : ' I am 
the Lord thy God,' ' Thou shalt have no other God,' and 
4 Thou shalt not take the name of thy God in vain,' with 
its corollary that God is all present, and penetrates all the 
secrets of man, as well as his actions and words, that 
he requites good and evil, and ' that the eyes of the Lord 


run to and fro' (2 Chron. xvi. 9), etc. The religious person 
never acts, 1 speaks or thinks without believing that he 
is observed by eyes which see and take note, which re- 
ward and punish and call to account for everything 
objectionable in word and deed. In walking or sitting 
he is like one afraid and timid, who is at times ashamed 
of his doings ; but on the other hand he is glad and 
rejoices, and his soul exults whenever he has done a good 
action, as if he had shown some attention to the Lord in 
enduring hardships in obedience to God. Altogether he 
believes in and bears in mind the following words : 
* Consider three things, and thou wilt commit no sin ; 
understand what is above thee, an all -seeing eye and a 
hearing ear, and all thine actions are written in a book ' 
(Aboth. ii. 1). He further recalls the convincing proof 
adduced by David : ' He that planted the ear, shall He 
not hear ; He that formed the eye, shall He not see ? ' 
(Ps. xciv. 9). There is also the Psalm beginning : ' 
Lord, Thou hast searched me and knowest me ' (Ps. 
cxxxiv.). [When reading it,] he remembers that all his 
limbs are placed with consummate wisdom, in proper 
order and proportion. He sees how they obey his will, 
though he know not which part of them should move. 
If, for example, he wishes to rise, he finds that his limbs 
have, like obedient helpers, raised his body, although he 
does not even know [the nature of] these limbs. It is 
the same when he wishes to sit, walk, or assumes any 
position. This is expressed in the words : ' Thou 
knowest my downsitting and mine uprising . . . Thou 
searchest out my path and my lying down, and art 
acquainted with all my ways ' (ver. 2-3). The organs of 
speech are much finer and more delicate than these. 
The child, as thou seest, repeats everything he hears, 



without knowing with which organ, nerve, muscle 
he must speak. The same is the case with the organs of 
breathing in singing melodies. People reproduce them 
quite harmoniously without being aware how it was 
done ; as if their Creator produced them ever anew and 
placed them in man's service. Such, indeed, is the 
case ; at least it nearly approaches it. One must not 
consider the work of creation in the light of an artisan's 
craft. When the latter, e.g. has built a mill, he departs, 
whilst the mill does the work for which it was con- 
structed. The Creator, however, creates limbs and en- 
dows them continually with their faculties. Let us 
imagine His solicitude and guidance removed only for 
one instant, and the whole world would suffer. If the 
religious person remembers this with every movement 
he first acknowledges the Creator's part in them, for 
having created and equipped them with the assistance 
necessary for their permanent perfection. This is as if 
the Divine Presence were with him continually, and the 
angels virtually accompanied him. If his piety is con- 
sistent, and he abides in places worthy of the Divine 
Presence, they are with Him in reality, and he sees them 
with his own eyes occupying a degree just below that 
of prophecy. Thus the most prominent of the Sages, 
during the time of the Second Temple, saw a certain 
apparition and heard a kind of voice [Bath Qol]. This 
is the degree of the pious, next to which is that of pro- 
phets The pious man derives from his veneration of 
the Divine Influence, near to him, what the servant 
derives from his master who created him, loaded him 
with gifts, and watches him in order to reward or to 
punish him. Thou wilt not, then, find any exaggera- 
tion in the words he utters when retiring into a private 


chamber : ' With your permission, honoured ones,' in 
reference to the Divine Presence ! And when he re- 
turns he recites the blessing : ' He that has created man 
in wisdom.' How sublime is this formula of blessing ; 
what deep meaning is in its wording for him who con- 
siders it in the right spirit ? Beginning with ' wisdom ' 
and concluding with the words : ' Healer of all flesh and 
doer of wonders,' it furnishes a proof for the miraculous - 
ness visible in the creation of living beings, endowed 
with the faculties of expelling and retaining. The words 
' all flesh ' encompass all living beings. In this way he 
connects his mind with the Divine Influence by various 
means, some of which are prescribed in the written Law, 
others in tradition. He wears the phylacteries on his 
head on the seat of the mind and memory, the straps 
falling down on his hand, where he can see them at 
leisure. The hand phylactery he wears above the main- 
spring of his faculties, the heart. He wears the Zizith 
lest he be entrapped by worldly thoughts, as it is 
written : ' That ye may not go astray after your heart 
and after your eyes ' (Num. xv. 39). Inside the phylac- 
teries are written [verses describing His] unity, reward, 
punishment, and c the remembrance of the exodus from 
Egypt,' because they furnish the irrefutable proof that 
the Divine Influence is attached to mankind, and that 
Providence watches them and keeps record of their deeds. 
The pious man, then, examines his sensations, and de- 
votes part of them to God. Tradition teaches that the 
smallest measure of praise which it is man's duty to 
offer to God, consists in a hundred blessings daily. First 
among these are the ordinary ones, then he supple- 
ments them in the course of the day by the blessings 
which accompany the savouring of odours, eatables and 


things heard and seen. Whatever he does beyond those 
is a gain, and brings him nearer to God, as David says : 
' My mouth shall show forth Thy righteousness, Thy 
salvation all the day, for I know not the numbers there- 
of ' (Ps. Ixxi. 15). He means to say : Thy glory is not 
comprehended by numbers, but I will devote myself to 
it all my life and never be free from it. Love and fear 
no doubt enter the soul by these means, and are mea- 
sured with the measure of the law, lest the joy felt on 
Sabbaths and holy days outstep its bounds and develop 
into extravagance, debauchery and idleness, and neglect 
of the hours of prayer. Fear, on the other hand, should 
not go so far as to despair of forgiveness, and make him 
spend all his life in dread, causing him to transgress the 
command given him to feel pleasure in all that sustains 
him, as it is written : ' Thou shalt rejoice in every good 
thing' (Deut. xxvi. 11). It would also dimmish his 
gratitude for God's bounties ; for gratitude is the effect 
of joy. He, however, will be as one alluded to in the 
words : c Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy God 
in joy ... thou shalt serve thine enemies' (Deut. xxviii. 
47, 49; Lev. xix. 17). Zeal in reproving 'thy neigh- 
bour,' and in study should not pass into wrath and 
hatred, disturbing the purity of his soul during prayer. 
He is deeply convinced of the c justice of God's judg- 
ment.' He finds in it protection and solace from sorrow 
and the troubles of life if he is convinced of the justice 
of the Creator of all living creatures ; He who sustains 
and guides them with a wisdom which the human in- 
tellect is only capable of grasping in a general way, but 
not in detail. See how wonderfully conceived is the 
nature of the creatures ; how many marvellous gifts 
they possess which show forth the intention of an all- 


wise Creator, and the will of an omniscient all-powerful 
Being. He has endowed the small and the great with 
all necessary internal and external senses and limbs. 
He gave them organs corresponding to their instincts. 
He gave the hare and stag the means of flight required 
by their timid nature ; endowed the lion with ferocity 
and the instruments for robbing and tearing. He who 
considers the formation, use and relation of the limbs to 
the animal instinct, sees wisdom in them and so perfect 
an arrangement that no doubt or uncertainty can re- 
main in his soul concerning the justice of the Creator. 
When an evil thought suggests that there is injustice in 
the circumstance that the hare falls a prey to the lion 
or wolf, and the fly to the spider, Reason steps in warn- 
ing him as follows : How can I charge the all -Wise with 
injustice when I am convinced of His justice, and that 
injustice is quite out of the question ? If the lion's 
pursuit of the hare and the spider's of the fly were mere 
accidents, I should assert the necessity of accident. I 
see, however, that this wise and just Manager of the 
world equipped the lion with the means for hunting, 
with ferocity, strength, teeth and claws ; that He fur- 
nished the spider with cunning and taught it to weave a 
net which it constructs without having learnt to do so ; 
how He equipped it with the instruments required, and 
appointed the fly as its food, just as many fishes serve 
other fishes for food. Can I say aught but that this is 
the fruit of a wisdom which I am unable to grasp, and 
that I must submit to Him who is called : ' The Rock 
whose doing is perfect ' (Deut. xxxii. 4). Whoever 
reflects on this will do as did Nahum of Gimzo, of whom 
it is related that no matter what happened to him, he 
always said : ' This, too, is for the best.' 2 He will, then, 


always live happily, and all tribulations will fall lightly 
upon him. He will even welcome them if he is con- 
scious of having transgressed, and will be cleansed 
through them as one who has paid his debt, and is glad 
of having eased his mind. He looks joyfully forward 
to the reward and retribution which await him ; nay, 
he enjoys affording mankind a lesson of patience and 
submission to God, not less than gaining a good reputa- 
tion. Thus it is with [his own troubles, and also with 3 ] 
those of mankind at large. If his mind is disturbed by 
the length of the exile and the diaspora and degradation 
of his people, he finds comfort first in ' acknowledging 
the justice of the decree,' as said before ; then in being 
cleansed from his sins ; then in the reward and recom- 
pense awaiting him in the world to come, and the attach- 
ment to the Divine Influence in this world. If an evil 
thought make him despair of it, saying : ' Can these 
bones live ? ' (Ezek. xxxvii. 3) our traces being 
thoroughly destroyed and our history decayed, as it is 
written : they say : * our bones are dried ' (ibid 11) let 
him think of the manner of the delivery from Egypt and 
all that is put down in the paragraph : ' For how many 
favours do we owe gratitude to God ? ' * He will, then, 
find no difficulty in picturing how we may recover our 
greatness, though only one of us may have remained. 
For it is written : ' Worm of Jacob ' what can re- 
main of a man when he has become a worm in his 
grave ? 

12. Al Khazari : In this manner he lives a happy 
life even in exile ; he gathers the fruit of his faith in this 
world and the next. He, however, who bears the exile 
unwillingly, loses his first and his last rewards. 

13. The Rabbi : His pleasure is strengthened and 


enhanced by the duty of saying blessings over every- 
thing he enjoys or which happens to him in this world. 

14. Al Khazari : How can that be, are not the blessings 
an additional burden ? 

15. The Rabbi : Is it not beseeming that a perfect 
man should find more pleasure in that which he par- 
takes than a child or an animal ; even as an animal 
enjoys it more than does a plant though the latter is 
continually taking nourishment ? 

16. Al Khazari : This is so because he is favoured 
with the consciousness of enjoyment. If a drunken 
person were given all he desires, whilst being completely 
intoxicated, he would eat and drink, hear songs, meet 
his friends, and embrace his beloved. But if told of it 
when sober, he would regret it and regard it as a loss 
rather than a gain, since he had all these enjoyments 
whilst he was incapable of appreciating them. 

17. The Rabbi : Preparing for a pleasure, experiencing 
it and looking forward to it, double the feeling of enjoy- 
ment. This is the advantage of the blessings for him 
who is used to say them with attention and devotion. 
They produce in his soul a kind of pleasure and grati- 
tune towards the Giver. He was prepared to give 
them up ; now his pleasure is all the greater, and he says : 
' He has kept us alive and preserved us.' He was pre- 
pared for death, now he feels gratitude for life, and 
regards it as gain. Should sickness and death over- 
take thee, they will be light, because thou hast communed 
with thyself and seen that thou gainest with thy 
Lord. According to thy nature thou art well fitted to 
abjure enjoyment, since thou art dust. Now He has 
presented thee with life and desire ; thou art grateful to 
Him. If He takes them away, thou sayest : ' The Lord 


has given, the Lord has taken.' (Job i. 21). Thus thy 
whole life is one enjoyment. Whoever is unable to 
pursue such a course, consider not his pleasure a human 
pleasure, but a brutish one, which he does not perceive, 
any more than the drunkard alluded to above. The 
godly person fully grasps the meaning of each blessing, 
and knows its purpose in every connexion. The blessing, 
' He who created the lights,' places before his eye the 
order of the upper world, the greatness of the heavenly 
bodies and their usefulness, that in the eyes of their 
Creator they are no greater than worms, though they 
appear to us immense on account of the profit we 
derive from them. The proof that He is their Creator 
may be found in the circumstance already mentioned, 
that His wisdom and power observable in the creation 
of the ant and bee is not less than in that of the sun 
and its sphere. The traces of this providence and 
wisdom are finer and more wonderful in the ant and bee, 
because, in spite of their minuteness, He put faculties 
and organs into them. This he bears in mind lest the 
light appear to him too great, and an evil genius lead 
him to adopt some views of worshippers of spirits, and 
make him believe that the sun and moon are able to 
help or injure independently, whilst they can only 
assist to do so indirectly, like the wind and fire. It is 
written : ' If I behold the sun when it shines . . . and 
my heart has been secretly enticed' (Job xxxi. 26, 27). 
At the blessing beginning : ' with eternal love,' he, in a 
similar manner, bears in mind the attachment of the 
Divine Influence to the community which was prepared to 
receive it, as a smooth mirror receives the light, and that 
the Law is the outcome of His will in order to establish 
His sway on earth ; as it is in heaven. His wisdom did 


not demand of Him to create angels on earth,but mortals 
of flesh and blood, in whom natural gifts and certain 
characteristics prevail according to favourable or un- 
favourable influences, as this is explained in the ' Book 
of Creation.' 5 Whenever some few, or a whole com- 
munity, are sufficiently pure, the divine light rests on 
them and guides in an incomprehensible and miraculous 
manner which is quite outside the ordinary course of 
the natural world. This is called ' Love and joy." 
The Divine Influence, however, found next to the stars 
and spheres none who accepted his commands and who 
adhered to the course He had dictated, with the ex- 
ception of a few between Adam and Jacob. When 
they had become a people, the Divine^Influence rested 
upon them out of love, 'in order a God unto 
them.' In the desert he arranged them in the manner 
of the sphere in four standards, corresponding to the four 
quarters of the sphere, and in twelve tribes, correspond- 
ing to the twelve signs of the zodiac, the camp of the 
Levites being in the centre, just as it is stated in the 
' Book of Creation.' ' The holy Temple is exactly in 
the centre, but God carries them all.' All this points 
to ' love ' for the sake of which the blessing is recited. 
In the reading of the Shema, which then follows, he 
accepts the obligations of the Law, as in the piece 
beginning ' True and certain,' which expresses the firm 
resolution to observe the Torah. This is as if, after 
having clearly and unmistakably imbibed all that 
preceded, he binds his soul and testifies that the children 
should submit to the Law for ever, just as the forefathers 
had done, according to the words : ' Upon our fathers, 
and upon us, and our children and our (coming) 
generations ... a good word, firmly established, that 


never passes away.' To this he attaches these articles 
of creed which complete the Jewish belief, viz. the 
recognition of God's sovereignty, His eternity, and the 
providential care which He bestowed on our forefathers ; 
that the Torah emanated from Him, and that the proof 
for all this is to be found in the delivery from Egypt. 
This is alluded to in the words : ' It is true that Thou art 
the Lord our God ; truly from everlasting is Thy name 
. . . the help of our fathers . . . from Egypt didst Thou 
redeem us.' He who unites all this in pure thought is a 
true Israelite and worthy of aspiring to the Divine 
Influence which among all nations was exclusively con- 
nected with the children of Israel. He finds no diffi- 
culty in standing before the Divine Presence, and he 
receives an answer as often as he asks. The prayer of 
the ' Eighteen Benedictions ' must follow the blessing 
' He has redeemed Israel ' immediately and promptly, 
standing upright for this prayer in the condition de- 
scribed previously, when we discussed the blessings which 
relate to the whole Israelitish nation. Prayers of more 
individual character are voluntary and not incumbent, 
and they have their place in the paragraph ending, ' He 
who hears the prayer.' In the first paragraph, entitled, 
' Fathers,' 5a the worshipper remembers the piety of the 
Patriarchs, the establishment of the covenant with them 
on the part of God for all times, which never ceases, 
as is expressed in the words : ' He brings the Redeemer 
to their children's children.' The second blessing, 
known as ' Mighty Deeds,' teaches that God's is the 
eternal rule of the world, not however, as natural 
philosophers assert, that this is done by natural and 
empirical means. The worshipper is further reminded 
that He ' revives the dead ' whenever He desires, how- 


ever far this may be removed from the speculation of 
natural philosophers. Similar ideas prevail in the 
words : ' He causes the wind to blow, and the rain to 
descend.' According to His desire He ' delivers those in 
bondage,' as may be established by instances from the 
history of Israel. Having read these paragraphs which 
enlighten him in the belief that God keeps up a connexion 
with this material world, the worshipper extols and 
sanctifies Him by the declaration that no corporeal 
attitude appertains to Him. This is done in the para- 
graph beginning : ' Thou art holy,' a blessing which 
inculcates belief in the attributes of sublimity and 
holiness commented upon by philosophers. This para- 
graph follows the others in which the absoluteness of 
God's sovereignty is laid down. They convince us that 
we have a King and Lawgiver, and without them we 
had lived in doubt, the theories of philosophers 
and materialists. The paragraphs of * Fathers ' and 
' Mighty Deeds,' must therefore precede that of the 
' sanctification of God.' After this the worshipper 
begins to pray for the wants of the whole of Israel, and 
it is not permissible to insert other prayers except in 
the place of voluntary supplications. A prayer, in 
order to be heard, must be recited for a multitude, or 
in a multitude or, for an individual who could take the 
place of a multitude. None such, however, is to be found 
in our age. 

18. Al Khazari : Why is this ? If every one read 
his prayers for himself, would not his soul be purer 
and his mind less abstracted ? 

19. The Rabbi : Common prayer has many ad- 
vantages. In the first instance a community will never 
pray for a thing which is hurtful for the individual, 


whilst the latter sometimes prays for something [to 
the disadvantage of other individuals, or some of them 
may pray for something] 6 that is to his disadvantage. 
One of the^conditions of prayer, craving to be heard, is 
that its object be profitable to the world, but not hurtful 
in any way. Another is that an individual rarely 
accomplishes his prayer without slips and errors. It 
has been laid down, therefore, that the individual 
recite the prayers of a community, and if possible in a 
community of not less than ten persons, so that one 
makes up for the forgetfulness or error of the other. In 
this way [a complete prayer is gained, read with un- 
alloyed devotion. Its blessing rests on everyone] 7 
each receiving his portion. For the Divine Influence 
is as the rain which waters an area ( if deserving of it), 
and includes some smaller portion which does not 
deserve it, but shares the general abundance. On the 
other hand, the rain is withheld from an area which does 
not deserve it, although some portion is included which 
did deserve it, but suffers with the majority. This is 
how God governs the world. He reserves the reward of 
every individual for the world to come ; but in this 
world He gives him the best compensation, granting 
salvation in contradiction to His neighbours. There 
are but few who completely escape the general retri- 
bution. A person who prays but for himself is like 
him who retires alone into his house, refusing to assist 
his fellow -citizens in the repair of their walls. His 
expenditure is as great as his risk. He, however, who 
joins the majority spends little, yet remains in safety, 
because one replaces the defects of the other. The city 
is in the best possible condition, all its inhabitants en- 
joying its prosperity with but little expenditure, which all 


share alike. In a similar manner, Plato styles that which 
is expended on behalf of the law, ' the portion of the 
whole.' 7a If the individual, however,^neglects this 
4 portion of the whole ' which is the basis of the welfare 
of the commonwealth of which he forms^a part, in the 
belief that he does better in spending it on himself, 
sins against the commonwealth, and more against him- 
self. For the relation of the individual is as the relation 
of the single limb to the body. Should the arm, in case 
bleeding is required, refuse its blood, the whole body, 
the arm included, would suffer. It is, however, the 
duty of the individual to bear hardships, or even death, 
for the sake of the welfare of the commonwealth. He 
must particularly be careful to contribute his c portion 
of the whole,' without fail. Since ordinary speculation 
did not institute this, God prescribed it in tithes, gifts, 
and offerings, etc., as a ' portion of the whole ' of 
worldly property. Among actions this is represented 
by Sabbath, holy days, years of release and jubilee 
and similar institutions ; among words it is prayers, 
blessings and thanksgivings ; among abstract things 
it is love, fear and joy. The first place [of the second 
group of blessings] is very appropriately given to the 
prayer for intelligence and enlightenment to obey God. 
Man prays to be brought near to his Master. He, 
therefore, says first : 8 ' Thou graciously givest reason to 
man,' which is immediately followed by ' He who takes 
delight in repentance.' Thus ' wisdom,' ' knowledge ' 
and ' intelligence ' move in the path of the Law and 
worship in the words : ' Restore us, our Father^to 
Thy Law.' Since mortal man cannot help sinning, a 
prayer is required for forgiveness of transgressions in 
thought and deed. This is done in the formula end- 


ing : ' the Merciful who forgiveth much.' To this para- 
graph he adds the result and sign of forgiveness, viz. 
the redemption from our present condition. He begins : 
' Behold our misery,' and concludes : ' Redeemer of 
Israel.' After this he prays for the health of body and 
soul, and for the bestowal of food to keep up the strength 
in the blessing of the ' years.' Then he prays for the re- 
union of the scattered, in the paragraph ending : ' He 
who gathers together the scattered of His people of the 
house of Israel.' With this is connected the re -appear- 
ance of justice and restoration of the former condition 
[of the people] in the words : ' Rule over us Thou alone.' 
He, then, prays against evil and the destruction of the 
thorns in the paragraph of the ' heretics.' This is 
followed by the prayer for the preservation of the pure 
essence in : ' The just.' He, then, prays for the return 
to Jerusalem which again is to form the seat of the 
Divine Influence, and with this is connected the prayer 
concerning the Messiah, the son of David. This con- 
cludes all worldly wants. He now prays for the accept- 
ance of his prayer, as well as for the visible revelation of 
the Shekhinah, just as appeared to the prophets, pious, 
and those who were delivered from Egypt, in the para- 
graph ending : ' Thou who hearest prayer.' Then 
he prays : ' Let mine eye behold,' and concludes : ' He 
who restores His Shekhinah to Zion.' He imagines the 
Shekhinah standing opposite to him and bows down with 
the words : ' We give thanks,' which contain the acknow- 
ledgment and gratitude for God's mercy. The whole 
concludes with the paragraph : * He maketh peace,' in 
order to take leave from the Shekhinah in peace. 

20. AL.Khazari : There is nothing to criticise, as I see 
how settled and circumspect all these arrangements are. 


There was one point to be mentioned, viz. that your 
prayers say so little of the world to come. But thou 
hast already proved to me that he who prays for at- 
tachment to the Divine Light, and the faculty of seeing 
it with his own eyes in this world, and who, nearly ap- 
proaching the rank of prophets, is thus engaged in 
prayer and nothing can bring man nearer to God than 
this has without doubt prayed for more than the 
world to come. He gains it with the other. He whose 
soul is in contact with the Divine Influence, though 
still exposed to the accidents and sufferings of the 
body, it stands to reason that it will gain a more in- 
timate connexion with the former, when it has become 
free and detached from this unclean vessel. 

21. The Kabbi : I can explain this better to thee by a 
parable. A man visited the king. The latter accorded 
him his most intimate friendship, and permitted him 
to enter his presence whenever he wished. He became 
so familiar with the king that he invited him to his house 
and table. The king not only consented, but sent his 
noblest veziers to him and did to him what he had done 
to no one^else. Whenever he had neglected something, 
or had done something wrong, and the king kept aloof 
from him, he only entreated him to return to his former 
custom, and not to forbid his veziers to come and see 
him. The other inhabitants of the country only craved 
the king's protection when they undertook a journey, 
against robbers, wild beasts, and the terrors of the road. 
They" were confident that the king^would assist and 
take*care of f them^during their journey, although he 
had 'never done*so as long as they remained at home. 
Each of them boasted that the king cared for him more 
than for anybody else, thinking he had honoured the 


king more than anybody else. The stranger, however, 
thought little of his departure, nor did he ask for a guard. 
When the hour arrived he was told that he would perish 
in the dangers of the journey since he had no one to take 
care of him. ' Who gave you companions ? ' asked he. 
' The king ' said they, ' whom we have petitioned for 
assistance ever since we have been in this city ; ' but 
we have not seen thee do likewise.' ' You fools,' 
answered he ; ' is a person who called on him in the hour 
of safety not more entitled to expect his assistance in 
the hour of danger, though he did not open his mouth ? 
Will he refuse his assistance to a man in the time of need 
after having responded to him during his prosperity ? 
If you boast that he takes care of you because you have 
shown him honour, has anyone of you done so much 
in this respect, took so much trouble in the execution of 
his commands, in keeping aloof from dishonour, in 
respecting his name and code as I did ? Whatever I 
did, I did at his command and instruction. As to you, 
you honour him according to your own conception and 
fancy, yet he fails you not. How can he, now, leave me, 
if I am in need, during my journey, because, trusting his 
justice, I did not speak to him of it as you have done.' 
This parable is only meant for those who depart from the 
right course, and do not accept the words of the Sages. 8 
But apart from this, our prayers are full of allusions of 
the world to come, and the utterances of the Sages, which 
are handed down from the Prophets, are studded with 
descriptions of Paradise and Gehinnom, as explained 
before. 9 Now I have sketched out to thee the conduct of 
a religious person in the present time, and thou canst 
imagine what it was like in that happy time and that 
divine place amidst the people whose roots were 


Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They represent the 
essence of the latter, men and women distinguished by 
virtue, suffering nothing unbecoming to pass their 
lips. The godly man moves about among them, but 
his soul is not polluted by the improper words which he 
may hear, nor does any impurity adhere to his garment 
or dress from issue, or vermin, or corpses, or leprosy, 
etc., because they all live in holiness and purity. This 
is in a greater measure the case in the land of the 
Shekhinah, where he only meets people who occupy the 
degree of holiness, as Priest, Levites, Nazirites, Sages, 
Prophets, Judges and Overseers. Or he sees c a multi- 
tude that kept holiday with the voice of joy and praise ' 
(Ps. xlii. 5), on the ' three festivals in the year.' He 
only hears the ' Song of the Lord,' only sees the ' Work 
of the Lord,' particularly if he is a priest or Levite who 
lives on the bread of the Lord and, like Samuel, lives 
in the ' House of the Lord ' from his infancy. He 
need not seek any livelihood, as his whole life is devoted 
to the ' Service of the Lord.' How does his work and 
the purity and excellence of his soul appear to 

22. Al Khazari : This is the highest degree, above 
which there is none but the angelic one. Such a mode 
of life entitles man to the prophetic afflatus, particularly 
there where the Shekhinah dwells. A religion of this 
kind can do without ascetic or monastic retirement. 
Now I request thee to give me an outline of the doctrine 
of the Karaites. For I see that they are much more 
zealous believers than the Rabbanites, and their argu- 
ments are, as I perceive, more striking and in harmony 
with the Torah. 

23. The Rabbi : Did we not state before that specu- 



lation, reasoning and fiction on the Law do not lead to 
the pleasure of God ? Otherwise dualists, materialists, 
worshippers of spirits, anchorites, and those who burn 
their children are all endeavouring to come near to God ? 
We have, however, said, that one cannot approach God 
except by His commands. For he knows their com- 
prehensiveness, division, times, and places, and conse- 
quences in the fulfilment of which the pleasure of God 
and the connexion with the Divine Influence are to 
be gained. Thus it was in the building of the Taber- 
nacle. With every item it is said : ' And Bezaleel made 
the ark . . ., the lid . . ., the carpets . . . ,' and 
concerning each of them is stated : ' Just as the Lord 
had commanded Moses.' This means neither too much 
nor too little, although our speculation cannot 
bear on works of this kind. Finally it is said : 
* And Moses saw the whole work, and behold they 
had performed it just as the Lord had commanded, 
thus they worked, and Moses blessed them' (Exod. 
xxxix. 43). The completion of the Tabernacle was 
followed by the descent of the Shekhinah, the two 
conditions which form the pillars of the Law having 
been fulfilled, viz., firstly, that the Law originated 
with God ; secondly, that the people conformed with 
it in a pure mind. God commanded the building 
of the Tabernacle, and the whole people obeyed 
as it is said ' Of every man that giveth it willingly 
with his heart, shall ye take My offering ' (chap. xxv. 
2) with the greatest zeal and enthusiasm. The re- 
sult was equally perfect, viz. the appearance of the 
Shekhinah, as it is said : ' And I will dwell in their midst.' 
I gave thee the example of the creation of the plant and 
animal, and told thee that the form which distinguishes 


one plant from another and one animal from another is 
not a natural force [but a work of God, called nature by 
philosophers. As a matter of fact the powers of nature] 1 
are capable of favouring such a development according 
to the proportion of heat and cold, moisture and dry- 
ness. One thing would, then, become a plant, another 
a vine, this a horse, that a lion. We are unable to 
determine these proportions, and could we do it, we 
might produce blood or milk, etc. from liquids mixed 
by our own calculations. We might, eventually, create 
living beings, endowed with the spirit of life. Or we 
might produce a substitute for bread from ingredients 
which have no nourishing powers, simply by mixing the 
right proportions of heat and cold, moisture and dryness, 
and particularly if we knew the spherical constella- 
tions and their influences which, in the opinion of 
astrologers, assist to bring forth of anything that is 
desired in this world. We have seen, however, that 
all alchymists and necromancers who have tried those 
things, have been put to shame. Do not raise the 
objection that these people are able to produce animals 
and living beings, as bees from flesh and gnats from 
wine. These are not the consequences of their calcula- 
tions and agency, but of experiments. It was found 
that cohabitation was followed by the birth of a 
child ; man, however, does but plant the seed in 
the soil prepared to receive and develop it. The 
calculation of proportions which give the human form 
belongs exclusively to the Creator. In the same 
manner is the determination of the living people 
worthy to form the seat of the Divine Influence God's 
alone. This calculating and weighing must be learnt 
from Him, but we should not reason about His word, as 


it is written : e There is no wisdom nor understanding 
nor counsel against the Lord ' (Prov. xxi. 30). What 
dost thou think we should adopt in order to become 
like our fathers, to imitate them, and not to speculate 
about the Law ? 

24. Al Khazari : We can only accomplish this through 
the medium of their traditional teachings, by the support 
of their deeds, and by endeavouring to find one who is 
regarded as an authority by one generation, and capable 
of handing down the history of another. The latter 
generation, however, cannot, on account of the multi- 
tude of its individuals, be suspected of having made a 
general agreement to carry the Law with its branches 
and interpretations unaltered from Moses downward 
either in their memories or in a volume. 

25. The Rabbi : What wouldst thou think if differ- 
ence were found in one or two copies ? 

26. Al Khazari : [One must study several copies, 11 ] 
the majority of which cannot be faulty. The minority 
can, then, be neglected. The same process applies to 
traditions. If the minority differs, we turn to the 

27. The Rabbi : Now, what is thy opinion if in 
the manuscripts a letter were found which is in con- 
trast to common sense, e.g. sddu (Lam. iv. 18), where 
we should expect sdru, 12 and nafshi (Ps. xxiv. 4), where 
we should read nafsho ? 

28. Al Khazari : Common sense would in these and 
other cases alter in all volumes, first the letters, then the 
words, then the construction, then the vowels and ac- 
cents, and consequently also the sense. There are many 
verses to which the reader can give an opposite meaning 
by altering the place of any of these appositives. 


29. The Rabbi : In which form did Moses leave his 
book to the Israelites in thy opinion ? 

30. Al Khazari : Undoubtedly without either" vowels 
or accents, just as our scrolls are written. There was as 
little agreement possible among the people 13 on this 
point, as on the unleavened bread, or Passover, or other 
laws which were given as a ' remembrance of the delivery 
from Egypt.' These laws confirm in the minds of the 
Israelites the historical truth of the exodus from Egypt 
by means of the recurring ceremonies, which could 
not possibly be the result of common agreement without 
causing contradiction. 

31. The Rabbi : There is, therefore, no doubt that the 
Book was preserved in memory with all its vowels, 
divisions of syllables and accents : by the priests, be- 
cause they required them for the Temple service, and in 
order to teach the people ; by the kings, because they 
were commanded : ' And it shall be with him and he 
shall read therein all the days of his life ' (Deut. xvii. 19). 
The judges had to know it to enable them to give judg- 
ment ; the members of the Sanhedrion, because they were 
warned : ' Keep therefore and do them, for this is your 
wisdom and understanding ' (Deut. iv. 6) ; the pious, in 
order to receive reward ; and, finally, the hypocrites, to 
acquire a good name. The seven vowels and accents 
were appointed as signs for forms which were regarded 
as Mosaic tradition. Now, how have we to judge those 
persons who first divided the text into verses, equipped 
it with vowel signs, accents, and masoretic signs, con- 
cerning full or defective orthography ; and counted the 
letters with such accuracy that they found out that the 
gimd of gallon 1 * (Lev. xi. 42) stood right in the middle 
of the Torah, and kept a record of all irregular vowels ? 


Dost thou consider this work either superfluous or 
idle, or dutiful zeal ? 

32. Al Khazari : The latter no doubt. It was to 
serve as a fence round the law in order to leave no room 
for alterations. Moreover, it is a great science. The 
system of vowel signs and accents reveals an order which 
could only emanate from divinely-instilled notions, 
quite out of proportion to our knowledge. It can only 
have been received from a community of favoured ones 
or a single individual of the same stamp. In the latter 
case it must have been a prophet, or a person assisted 
by the Divine Influence. For a scholar who lacks this 
assistance can be challenged by another scholar to adopt 
his views in preference. 

33. The Rabbi : The acknowledgment of tradition is 
therefore incumbent upon us as well as upon the Kara- 
ites, as upon anyone who admits that the Torah, in its 
present shape and as it is read, is the Torah of Moses. 

34. Al Khazari : This is exactly what the Karaites 
say. But as they have the complete Torah, they con- 
sider the tradition superfluous. 

35. The Rabbi : Far from it. If the consonantic text 
of the Mosaic Book requires so many traditional classes 
of vowel signs, accents, divisions of sentences and 
masoretic signs for the correct pronunciation of words, 
how much more is this the case for the comprehension of 
the same ? The meaning of a word is more comprehensive 
than its pronunciation. When God revealed the verse : 
' This month shall be unto you the beginning of months ' 
(Exod. xii. 2), there was no doubt whether He meant 
the calendar of the Copts or rather the Egyptians 
among whom they lived, or that of the Chaldseans who 
were Abraham's people in Ur-Kasdim ; or solar [or 


lunar months], 1G or lunar years, which are made to 
agree with solar years, as is done in embolismic years. 
I wish the Karaites could give me a satisfactory answer 
to questions of this kind. I would not hesitate to adopt 
their view, as it pleases me to be enlightened. I further 
wish to be instructed on the question as to what makes 
an animal lawful for food ; whether ' slaughtering ' 
means cutting its throat or any other mode of killing ; 
why killing by gentiles makes the flesh unlawful ; what 
is the difference between slaughtering, skinning, and the 
rest of it. I should desire an explanation of the for- 
bidden fat, seeing that it lies in the stomach and entrails 
close to the lawful fat, as well as of the rules of cleansing 
the meat. Let them draw me the line between the fat 
which is lawful and that which is not, inasmuch as there is 
no difference visible. Let them explain to me where the 
tail of the sheep, which they declare unlawful, ends. 
One of them may possibly forbid the end of the tail 
alone, another the whole hind part. I desire an ex- 
planation of the lawful and unlawful birds, excepting 
the common ones, such as the pigeon and turtle dove. 
How do they know that the hen, goose, duck, and par- 
tridge are not unclean birds ? I further desire an ex- 
planation of the words : ' Let no man go out of his place 
[on the seventh day] ' (Exod. xvi. 29). Does this refer to 
the house or precincts, estate where he can have many 
houses territory, district, or country. For the word 
place can refer to all of these. I should, further, like to 
know where the prohibition of work on the Sabbath 
commences ? Why pens and writing material are not ad- 
missible in the correction of a scroll of the Law (on this 
day), but lifting a heavy book, or a table, or eatables, 
entertaining guests and all cares of hospitality should 


be permitted, although the guests would be resting, and 
the host be kept employed ? This applies even 
more to women and servants, as it is written : ' That 
thy manservant and thy maidservant rest as well as 
thou ' (Deut. v. 14). Wherefore it is forbidden to ride 
[on the Sabbath] horses belonging to gentiles, or to 
trade. Then, again, I wish to see a Karaite give judg- 
ment between two parties according to the chapters 
Exodus xxi. and Deuteronomy xxi. 10 sqq. For that 
which appears plain in the Torah, is yet obscure, and 
much more so are the obscure passages, because the oral 
supplement was relied upon. I should wish to hear the 
deductions he draws from the case of the daughters of 
Zelophehad to questions of inheritance in general. I want 
to know the details of circumcision, fringes and tabernacle ; 
why it is incumbent on him to say prayers ; whence 
he derives his belief in reward and punishment in the 
world after death ; how to deal with laws which interfere 
with each other, as circumcision or Paschal lamb with 
Sabbath, which must yield to which, and many other mat- 
ters which cannot be enumerated in general, much less in 
detail. Hast thou ever heard, King of the Khazars, 
that the Karaites possess a book which contains a fixed 
tradition on one of the subjects just mentioned, and 
which allows no differences on readings, vowel signs, 
accents, or lawful or unlawful matters, or decisions ? 

36. Al Khazari : I have neither seen anything of the 
kind, nor heard about it. I see, nevertheless, that they 
are very zealous. 

37. The Rabbi : This, as I have already told thee, 
belongs in the province of speculative theory. Those 
who speculate on the ways of glorifying God for the 
purpose of His worship, are much more zealous than 


those who practise the service of God exactly as it is 
commanded. The latter are at ease with their tradi- 
tion, and their soul is calm like one who lives in a town, 
and they fear not any hostile opposition. The former, 
however, is like a straggler in the desert, who does not 
know what may happen. He must provide himself with 
arms and prepare for battle like one expert in warfare. 
Be not, therefore, astonished to see them so energetic, 
and do not lose courage if thou seest the followers of 
tradition, I mean the Rabbanites, falter. The former 
look for a fortress where they can entrench themselves, 
whilst the latter lie down on their couches in a place 
well fortified of old. 

38. Al Khazari : All thou sayest is convincing, be- 
cause the Law enjoins that there shall be ' one Torah 
and one statute.' Should Karaite methods prevail there 
would be as many different codes as opinions. Not 
one individual would remain constant to one code. 
For every day he forms new opinions, increases his know- 
ledge, or meets with someone who refutes him with some 
argument and converts him to his views. But when- 
ever we find them agreeing, we know that they follow 
the tradition of one or many of their ancestors. In such 
a case we should not believe their views, and say : ' How 
is it that you agree concerning this regulation, whilst 
reason allows the word of God to be interpreted in 
various ways ? ' If the answer be that this was the 
opinion of Anan, 17 or Benjamin, 18 Saul, 19 , or others, 
then they admit the authority of tradition received from 
people who lived before them, and of the best tradition, 
viz. that of the Sages. For they were many, whilst 
those Karaite teachers were but single individuals. The 
view of the Rabbis is based on the tradition of the Pro- 


phets ; the other, however, on speculation alone. The 
Sages are in concord, the Karaites in discord. The 
sayings of the Sages originate with ' the place which 
God shall choose,' and we must therefore accept even 
their individual opinions. The Karaites have nothing of 
the kind. I wish I knew their answer regarding the cal- 
culation of the new moon. 20 I see that their authorities 
follow Kabbanite practice in the intercalation of Adar. 
Nevertheless they taunt the Rabbanites, when the Tishri 
new moon appears, with the question : ; How could it 
happen that you [once] kept the fast of the day of 
Atonement on the ninth of Tishri ? ' 21 Are they not 
ashamed not to know, when intercalating, whether the 
month is Ellul or Tishri ; or Tishri or Marljeshwan, if 
they do not intercalate ? They ought rather to say : 
' I am drowning, but fear not the wet ! ' 22 We do not 
know whether the month is Tishri, Marheshwan, or 
Ellul. How can we criticise those in whose steps we 
follow, and whose teachings we adopt, 23 and ask : Do you 
fast on the ninth or tenth of Tishri ? 

39. The Rabbi : Our law is linked to the ' ordination 
given to Moses on Sinai,' or sprung ' from the place 
which the Lord shall choose ' (Is. ii. 3), ' for from Zion 
goes forth the Law, and the word of God from Jeru- 
salem.' Its mediators were the Judges, Overseers, 
Priests, and the members of the Synhedrion. It is 
incumbent upon us to obey the Judge appointed for the 
time being, as it is written : ' Or to the judge who will 
be in those days . . . and thou shalt inquire, and they 
shall tell thee the sentence of judgment, and thou shalt 
do according to the word which they tell thee . . . 
from the place which the Lord shall choose . . . and 
thou shall take heed to do according to all they teach 


thee ' (Deut. xvii. 9 sqq.). Further: ' The man who 
doeth presumptuously not to listen to the priest . . . 
this man shall die, and thou shalt remove the evil from 
thy midst.' Disobedience to the Priest or Judge is 
placed on a par with the gravest transgressions, in the 
words : ' Thou shalt remove the evil from thy midst.' 
This concludes with the words : ' And all the people 
shall hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously.' 
This refers to the time when the order of the Temple 
service and the Synhedrion, and the sections [of the 
Levites], who completed the organization, were still 
intact, and the Divine Influence was undeniably among 
them either in the form of prophecy or inspiration, as 
was the case during the time of the second Temple. 
Among these persons no agreement or convention was 
possible. In a similar manner arose the duty of reading 
the Book of Esther on Purim, and the ordination of 
IJanuccah, and we can say : ' He who has commanded 
us to read the Megillah ' and ' to kindle the light of 
Hanuccah,' or ' to complete 'or 'to read ' theHallel, 24 
4 to wash the hands,' ' the ordination of the Erub,' and 
the like. Had our traditional customs arisen after the 
exile, they could not have been called by this name, nor 
would they require a blessing, but there would be a 
regulation or rather a custom. The bulk of our laws, 
however, derives its origin from Moses, as an ' ordina- 
tion given to Moses from Sinai.' This also explains how 
a people obtained during forty years sufficient food and 
clothing, in spite of their large number. Moses was with 
them, and the Shekhinah did not forsake them, giving 
them general as well as special laws. Is it not absurd 
to assume that they refrained from inquiring occasionally 
into the details, and handing down their explanations 


and subdivisions ? Take the verse : ' And I will make 
known the laws of God and His statutes ' (Exod. xviii. 16), 
which is supplemented by the other : ' For this is your 
wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations, 
which shall hear all these laws, and they will say, surely 
this great nation is a wise and understanding people ' 
(Deut. iv. 6). He who wishes to gainsay this verse may 
look at the Karaites ; but he who desires to confirm it, 
let him behold the branches of knowledge embodied in 
the Talmud, which form only a small portion of the 
natural, metaphysical, mathematical, and astronomical 
studies [in which the Sages indulged]. He will, then, 
see that they deserve praise above all nations for their 
learning. Some of our laws originate, in certain cir- 
cumstances mentioned before, ' from the place which 
the Lord shall choose.' Prophecy lasted about forty 
years of the second Temple. 25 Jeremiah, in his pro- 
phetic speeches, commended the people of the second 
Temple for their piety, learning, and fear of God (chap. 
xxix. 10 sqq. ). If we did not rely on men like these, on 
whom should we rely ? We see that prescriptions given 
after Moses' death became law. Thus Solomon hallowed : 
' The middle of the court ' (1 Kings viii. 64 sq.), slaugh- 
tered sacrifices on a place other than the altar, and 
celebrated ' the feast seven days and seven days.' 
David and Samuel appointed the order of the Temple 
choir, which became a fixed law. Solomon added to 
the sanctuary built in the desert, and omitted from it. 26 
Ezra imposed the tax of one -third of a shekel on the 
community of the second Temple (Neh. x. 33). A 
stone paving was put in the place of the Ark, hiding 
it behind a curtain, because they knew that the Ark had 
been buried there 27 


40. Al Khazari : How 'could this be made to agree 
with the verse : ' Thou shalt not add thereto, nor 
diminish from it ? ' (Deut. xiii. 1). 

41. The Rabbi : This was only said to the masses, 
that they should not conjecture and theorise, and con- 
trive laws according to their own conception, as the 
Karaites do. They were recommended to listen to the 
post -Mosaic prophets, the priests and judges, as it is 
written : * I will raise them up a prophet . . . and he 
shall speak unto them all that I shall command him ' 
(Deut. xviii. 18). With regard to the priests and judges 
it is said that their decisions are binding. The words : 
' You shall not add,' etc., refer to ' that which I com- 
manded you through Moses ' and any ' prophet from 
among thy brethren ' who fulfils the conditions of a 
prophet. They further refer to regulations laid down 
in common by priests and judges ' from the place which 
thy Lord shall choose.' For they have divine assist- 
ance, and would never, on account of their large number, 
concur in anything which contradicts the Law. Much 
less likelihood was there of erroneous views, because 
they had inherited vast learning, for the reception of 
which they were naturally endowed. The members of 
the Synhedrion, as is known by tradition, had to possess 
a thorough acquaintance with all branches of science. 28 
Prophecy had scarcely ceased, or rather the Bath Qol, 
which took its place. Now, suppose we allow the 
Karaite , interpretation of the sentence ' From the 
morrow^of the Sabbath till the morrow of the Sabbath ' 
(Lev. xxiii. 11, 15, 16) to refer to the Sunday. But we 
reply that one of the judges, priests, or pious kings, in 
agreement with the Synhedrion and all Sages, found 
that this period was fixed with the intention of creating 


an interval of fifty days between ' the first fruits of the 
harvest of barley and the harvest of wheat,' and to 
observe ' seven weeks,' which are ' seven complete 
Sabbaths.' The first day of the week is only mentioned 
for argument's sake in the following manner : should 
the day of c putting the sickle to the corn ' be a Sunday, 
you count till Sunday. From this we conclude that 
should the beginning be on a Monday, we count till 
Monday. The date of putting the sickle, from which 
we count, is left for us to fix. This was fixed for the 
second day of Passover, which does not contradict the 
Torah, since it originated with ' the place which the 
Lord shall choose ' on the conditions discussed before. 
Perhaps this was done under the influence of divine 
inspiration. It was quite possible, and it saves us from 
the confusion of those who endeavour to cause confusion. 

42. Al Khazari : With these broad and irrefutable 
declarations thou hast cut off, Rabbi, some minor 
points which I had in my mind to urge on behalf of the 
Karaite interpretation, by which I hoped to silence 

43. The Rabbi : If the general principles are obvious 
to thee do not mind minor details. The latter are often 
subject to error, and owing to their wide ramification, 
know no bounds, and lead astray those who regard them 
from different points of view. A person who is con- 
vinced of the justice of the Creator and His all-embracing 
wisdom will pay no attention to apparent cases of in- 
justice on earth, as it is written : ' If thou seest the 
oppression of the poor and violent perverting of judg- 
ment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter ' 
(Eccl. v. 1). Whoever is convinced of the duration of 
the soul after the destruction of the body, as well as of 


its incorporeal nature and of its being as far removed 
from corporeality as the angels are, will pay no attention 
to the idea that the activity of the soul is stopped during 
sleep or illness which submerges the mental powers, 
that it is subject to the vicissitudes of the body, and 
similar disquieting ideas. 

44. Al Khazari : Yet I am not satisfied as long as I 
leave those details undiscussed, though I have admitted 
those general principles. 

45. The Rabbi : Say what thou wilt. 

46. Al Khazari : Does not our Torah teach retalia- 
tion, viz. ' eye for eye, tooth for tooth, as he hath caused 
a blemish in man, so shall be done to him ' (Lev. xxiv. 

47. The Rabbi : And is it not said immediately after- 
wards : ' And he that killeth a beast shall make it good, 
life for life ' ? (ver. 18, cf. 21). Is this not the principle 
of ransom ? It is not said : ' If anyone kills thy horse, 
kill his horse,' but ' take his horse, for what use is it to 
thee to kill his horse ? ' Likewise : If anyone has cut 
off thy hand, take the value of his hand ; for cutting off 
his hand profits thee not. The sentence : ' Wound for 
wound and stripe for stripe' (Exod. xxi. 25), embodies 
ideas antagonistic to common sense. How can we deter- 
mine such a thing ? One person may die from a wound, 
whilst another person may recover from the same. How 
can we gauge whether it is the same 1 How can we 
take away the eye of a one-eyed person in order to do 
justice to a person with two eyes, when the former would 
be totally blind, the latter still have one eye ? The 
Torah teaches : As he hath caused a blemish in man, so 
shall be done to him. What further need is there to 
discuss these details, when we have just set forth the 


necessity of tradition, the truthfulness, loftiness, and 
religious zeal of traditionists ? 

48. Al Khazari : For all that, I am surprised that 
you observe the regulations of religious purity. 

49. The Rabbi : Impurity and holiness are contra- 
dictory ideas ; one cannot be thought of without the 
other. Without holiness we should not know the 
signification of impurity. Impurity means that the 
approach to holy objects, hallowed by God, is forbidden 
to the person so affected. Such would be priests, their 
food, clothing, offering, sacrifices, the holy House, etc. 
In the same way the ideas of holiness include something 
which forbids the person connected with it to approach 
many ordinary objects. This chiefly depends on the 
vicinity of the Shekhinah, which we now lack entirely. 
The prohibition which still holds good, of cohabiting 
with a woman in her period or after confinement has 
nothing to do with impurity, but is an independent 
divine law. The practice we observe to keep aloof 
from them as much as possible is but a restriction and 
hedge to prevent ^cohabitation. The regulations of 
impurity proper ceased to^exist for us, because we live 
in ' an unclean land and in unclean air,' especially as we 
move about among graves, vermin, lepers, persons 
affected with issue, corpses, etc. To touch carrion 
is not forbidden on account of its impurity, but 
it forms a special law connected with the prohibition 
of eating the same to which impurity is accessory. 
If Ezra had not ordained a bath for certain contaminated 
persons, this would not be a regulation but simply a 
matter of cleanliness. If these persons would conceive 
this regulation in the sense of cleanliness, it would lose 
nothing, as long as it is not taken for a religious law. 


Otherwise they might draw conclusions from their own 
folly, try to improve upon the law and cause heterodoxy, 
I mean the splitting of opinions, which is the beginning 
of the corruption of a religion. They would soon be 
outside the pale of ' one law and one regulation.' What- 
ever we might allow ourselves in matters of touching 
even repulsive things, is out of proportion to their (the 
Karaites) schismatic views, which might cause us to 
find in one house ten persons with as many different 
opinions. Were our laws not fixed and confined in 
unbreakable rules, they would not be secure from the 
intrusion of strange elements and the loss of some com- 
ponent parts, because argument and taste would become 
guiding principles. The Karaite would have no com- 
punction in using the implements of idolatry, such as 
gold, silver, frankincense and wine. Indeed, death 
is better than this. On the other hand, he would 
abstain from using parts of the pig, even for purposes of 
medicine, although this- is in reality one of the lighter 
transgressions, and only punished with ' forty stripes.' 
In the same way he would allow the Nazirite to eat 
raisins and grapes rather than be intoxicated with 
mead and cider. But the opposite is true. This 
prohibition only refers to the products of the vine, but 
there was no intention of prohibiting intoxication 
altogether, as one might surmise. This is one of the 
secrets known only to God, his prophets and the pious. 
One must not, however, charge traditionists or those who 
draw their own conclusions, with ignorance in this 
matter, because the word shekhar is common property. 
They have a tradition that the ' wine and strong drink ' 
(Lev. x. 8), mentioned in connexion with the priests 
includes all kinds of intoxication, whilst the same words 



in the case of the Nazirite only refer to the juice of 
grapes. Every law has certain limits fixed with scienti- 
fic accuracy, though in practice they may appear il- 
logical. He who is zealous tries to avoid them, without, 
however, making them unlawful, as e.g. the flesh of an 
animal in peril of death, which is lawful. For it is 
uncertain whether this animal will die, because some 
one might assert that it will recover, and then be per- 
mitted. A diseased animal which externally looks in 
good health is unlawful, if it suffers internally from an 
incurable illness, with which it can neither live nor 
recover. Those who judge according to their own 
taste and reasoning may arrive in these matters at an 
opposite conclusion. Follow not, therefore, thy own 
taste and opinion in religious questions, lest they throw 
thee into doubts, which lead to heresy. Nor wiltthou 
be in harmony with one of thy friends on any point. 
Every individual has his own taste and opinion. It is 
only necessary to examine the roots of the traditional 
and written laws with the inferences codified for practice, 
in order to trace the branches back to the roots. Where 
they lead thee, there put thy faith, though thy mind 
and feeling shrink from it. Common view and assump- 
tion deny the non-existence of the vacuum, whilst 
logical conclusion rejects its existence. Appearance 
denies the infinite divisibility of a body, whilst logic 
makes it an axiom. Appearance denies that the earth 
is a globe and the one hundred and sixtieth 28a part of 
the sun disc. There are also other matters which astro- 
nomy establishes against mere appearances. Whatever 
the Sages declared lawful they did neither in obedience 
to their own taste or inclination, but to the results of 
the inherited knowledge, handed down to them, The 


same was the case with what they declared unlawful. 
He who is unable to grasp their wisdom, but judges their 
speech according to his own conception, will misinterpret 
them in the same way as people do with the words of 
natural philosophers and astronomers. Whenever they 
settle the limits of the code, and explain what is law- 
ful or unlawful in strictly juridical deduction, they 
indicate apparently unseemly points. They consider it 
revolting to eat the flesh of a dangerously sick animal, 
or to gain money by means of legal trickery, or to travel 
on the Sabbath with the assistance of the Erubf 9 or to 
render certain marriages lawful in a cunning manner, or 
to undo oaths and vows by circumvention, which may 
be permitted according to the paragraph of the law, 
but is devoid of any religious feeling. Both, however, 
are necessary together, for, if one is guided by the legal 
deduction alone, more relaxation would crop up than 
could be controlled. If, on the other hand, one would 
neglect the legalized lines which form the fence round 
the law, and would only rely on religious zeal, it 
would become a source of schism, and destroy every- 

50. Al Khazari : If this be so, I willingly admit that 
the Rabbanite who unites these two points of view is 
superior to the Karaite both in theory and practice. 
He would also perform his religious duties cheerfully, 
because they are handed down to him by trustworthy 
authorities who derived their knowledge from God. 
However far a_ Karaite's zeal may lead him, his heart 
will never be satisfied, because he knows that his zeal 
is but based on speculation and reasoning. He will 
never be sure whether his practice is God-pleasing. 
He is also aware that there are among the gentiles 


some who are even more zealous than he. Now I wish 
to ask thee concerning the Erub, 30 which is one of the 
licences of the law of Sabbath. How can we make 
lawful a thing which God has forbidden by means 
so paltry and artificial ? 

51. The Rabbi: Heaven forbid that all those pious men 
and Sages should concur in untying one of the knots of 
the divine law. Their intention was to make it tighter 
and therefore they said : Build a fence round the law. 
Part of this is the Rabbinic prohibition of carrying 
things out of private to public ground or vice versa, a 
prohibition not of Mosaic origin. In constructing 
this fence they introduced this licence, to prevent their 
religious zeal ranking with the Torah, and at the same 
time to give people some liberty in moving about. 
This liberty was gained in a perfectly lawful way and 
takes the form of the Erub, which marks a line between 
what is entirely legal, the fence itself, and the secluded 
part inside the latter. 

52. Al Khazari : This is enough for me. Yet I 
cannot believe that an Erub is strong enough to restore 
a connexion between two areas. 

53. The Rabbi : In this case the whole law is in- 
efficient in thy opinion. Dost thou consider the release 
of money, property, persons, and slaves valid by assuring 
the right of property or last will ? Likewise the divorce 
of a woman, or a second marriage, after having been 
single, by means of the formula : ' Write, sign and hand 
her the letter of divorce ; ' or her singleness after having 
been married ? All these matters depend upon a 
ceremony or a formula and are laid down in the Third 
Book of Moses. The leprosy of a garment or house 
[officially] depends upon the declaration of ' clean ' or 


4 unclean ' by a priest. The holy character of the 
Tabernacle was subject to its being erected by Moses 
and anointed with the anointing oil. The consecration 
of the priests depended upon the initiatory sacrifices 
and wave offerings ; that of the Levites upon purifying 
and wave offerings. Unclean persons were purified 
by means of ' water of separation ' (Num. xix. ) to which 
were added ashes of the red heifer, hyssop, and scarlet. 
The redemption of a house required two birds (Lev. 
xiv. 49). All these ceremonies, the remission of sins 
on the Day of Atonement, the cleansing of the sanctuary 
from impurities by means of the he -goat of Azazel, 
with all accompanying ceremonies ; the blessing of 
Israel through Aaron's uplifted hands and the reciting 
of the verse : ' the Lord bless thee ' ; upon every one of 
these ceremonies the Divine Influence rested. Religious 
ceremonies are, like the work of nature, entirely deter- 
mined by God, but beyond the power of man. Forma- 
tions of nature, are, as thou canst see, composed of ac- 
curately measured proportions of the four elements. A 
trifle renders them perfect and gives them their proper 
animal or plant form. Every mixture receives the 
shape beseeming it, but can also lose it through a 
trifle. The egg may be spoiled by the slight accident of 
too much heat or cold, or a movement, and become 
unable to receive the form of a chicken which otherwise 
the hen achieves by sitting on it three weeks. Who, 
then, can weigh actions upon which the Divine Influence 
rest , save God alone ? This is the error committed 
by alchymists and necromancers. The former thought, 
indeed, that they could weigh the elementary fire on 
their scales, and produce what they wished, and thus 
alter the nature of materials, as is done in living beings 


by natural heat which transforms food into blood, flesh, 
bone and other organs. They toil to discover a fire of 
the same kind, but are misled by accidental results of 
their experiments, not based on calculation, just in the 
same manner as the discovery was made that from the 
planting of seed within the womb man arises. When 
those necromancers heard that the appearance of the 
Divinity from Adam down to the children of Israel 
was gained by sacrifices, they thought it was the result 
of meditation and research ; that the prophets were but 
deeply learned persons who accomplished these wonders 
by means of calculation. Then they, on their part, 
were anxious to fix sacrifices to be offered up at 
certain times and astrological opportunities, accom- 
panied by ceremonies and burning of incense which 
their calculations prescribed. They even composed 
astrological books and other matters the mention of 
which is forbidden. Beside these, the adepts of magic 
formulas, having heard that a prophet had been spoken 
to in this or that manner, or had experienced a miracle, 
imagined that the words were the cause of the miracle. 
They, therefore endeavoured to accomplish a similar 
feat. The artificial is not like the natural. Religious 
deeds are, however, like nature. Being ignorant of 
their designs one thinks it but play till the results 
becomes apparent. Then one praises their guide and 
mover, and professes belief in him. Suppose thou hast 
heard nothing of cohabitation and its consequences, 
but thou f eelest thyself attracted by the lowest of female 
organs. If thou considerest the degradation of a woman's 
surrender, or the ignominy of surrendering to a woman, 
thou wouldst say wonderingly : this is as vain as it is 
absurd. But when thou seest a being like thyself 


born of a woman, then dost thou marvel and notice 
that thou art one of the preservers of mankind created 
by God to inhabit the earth. It is the same with re- 
ligious actions fixed by God. Thou slaughterest a lamb 
and smearest thyself with its blood, in skinning it, 
cleaning its entrails, washing, dismembering it and 
sprinking its blood. Then thou arrangest the wood, 
kindlest the fire, placing the body on it. If this were 
not done in consequence of a divine command, thou 
wouldst think little of all these actions and believe that 
they estrange thee from God rather than bring thee near 
to Him. But as soon as the whole is properly accom- 
plished, and thou seest the divine fire, or dost notice 
in thyself a new spirit, unknown before, or seest true 
visions and great apparitions, thou art aware that this is 
the fruit of the preceding actions, as well as of the great 
influence with which thou hast come in contact. When 
arrived at this goal care not that thou must die. Thy 
death is but the decay of thy body, whilst the soul 
having reached this step, cannot descend from it nor 
be removed. This will shew thee that the approach to 
God is only possible through the medium of God's 
command, and there is no road to the knowledge of the 
commands of God except by way of prophesy, but not 
by means of speculation and reasoning. There is, how- 
ever, no other connexion between us and these com- 
mands except truthful tradition. Those who have 
handed down these laws to us were not a few sporadic 
individuals, but a multitude of learned and lofty men 
nearly approaching the prophets. And if the 
bearers of the Law had only been the priests, Levites and 
the Seventy Elders, the chain beginning with Moses him- 
self would never have been interrupted. 


54. Al Khazari : I only know that the people of 
the second Temple forgot the Torah, and were ignorant 
of the law of Succah till they found it written. A 
similar thing happened with the law that ' an Ammonite 
shall not enter the congregation of God ' (Deut. xxiii. 3). 
With regard to these two points it is said : ' They 
found written.' (Neh. viii., 4; xiii. 1). This proves 
that they had lost the knowledge of the law. 

55. The Rabbi : If this be so we are to-day more 
learned and erudite than they, since we think we know 
the Torah. 

56. Al Khazari : That is what I say. 

57. The Rabbi : Should we be commanded to bring 
a sacrifice, would we know how and where to slaughter 
it, catch its blood, skin and dismember it, and into 
how many pieces, how to offer it up, how to sprinkle 
the blood, what to do with its meal and wine offering ; 
with what songs to accompany it ; what duties of holi- 
ness, purity, anointment, clothing, and demeanour the 
priests had to observe ; how, when and where they 
should eat the holy meat, and other matters which it 
would lead us too far to commemorate ? 

58. Al Khazari: We cannot know this without a 
priest or prophet. 

59. The Rabbi : See how the people of the second 
Temple were engaged many years in the construction 
of the altar, till God assisted them to build the Temple 
and the walls. Dost thou think that they brought 
offerings in a haphazard fashion ? 

60. Al Khazari : ' A burnt offering ' cannot be ' an 
offering made by fire a sweet savour ' (Lev. i. 9) being 
a law not dependent on reasoning except if all its 
details are arranged on the authority and command 


of God. The people were also well acquainted with 
the regulations of the Day of Atonement, which 
are more important than the regulations of the Succah. 
All these things required the detailed instruction of 
a teacher. 

61. The Rabbi : Should a person versed in these 
minute regulations of the Torah have been ignorant 
of the way how to construct a hut, or of the law con- 
cerning the Ammonites ? 

62. Al Khazari : What can I say, then, about ' they 
found written ' ? 

63. The Rabbi : The compiler of the Holy Writ did 
not pay so much attention to hidden matters as to those 
generally known. He, therefore, mentions nothing of 
the wisdom Joshua had received from God and from 
Moses, but only the days when he stood at the Jordan, 
the day when the sun stood still, and the day of the 
circumcision, since these matters concerned the 
whole people. The tales of Samson, Deborah, Gideon, 
Samuel, David and Solomon contain nothing about 
their own learning and religious practices. In the his- 
tory of Solomon we find an account of his luxurious 
table, great wealth, but of his great wisdom nothing 
except the case of the two women (1 Kings iii. 16), 
because this took place in public. The wisdom he 
displayed in his intercourse with the Queen of Sheba 31 
and elsewhere is not mentioned, because it was not the 
author's intention to relate anything that did not con- 
cern or interest the whole people. Special records 
referring to special individuals only, are lost with the 
exception of a few, besides the magnificent prophetic 
speeches which everyone took a delight in learning by 
heart on account of their lofty contents and noble 


language. Even of the history of Ezra and Nehemiah 
nothing is related except that which concerned the whole 
people. The day of the building of the tabernacles was 
a public affair, because on that day the people set out 
to ascend the mountains and gather olive, myrtle and 
palm branches. The words : ' they found written, ' 
mean that the whole people gave attention to them and 
commenced to build their tabernacles. The erudite 
were not unacquainted with the details of the law, and 
still less with the general tenor of it. The author's 
intention was to single out this day, as well as the other 
one on which the Ammonite and Moabite wives were 
divorced. This was a remarkable day, when men had 
to divorce their wives and the mothers of their children, 
a grave and painful matter. I do not believe that 
any other people than the chosen would give a similar 
proof of their obedience to their Lord. It is on account 
of this public affair that the words : ' they found written, ' 
were said. It means that, when the public Header read 
the words : ' An Ammonite or Moabite shall not 
enter . . . ' .the people was moved, and a great perturb- 
ation arose^on that day. 

64. Al Khazari : Give me an example of the manner 
of tradition which proves its verity. 

65. The Rabbi : Prophecy lasted about forty years 
during the second Temple among those elders 32 who 
had the assistance of the Shekhinah from the first 
Temple. Individually acquired prophecy had ceased 
with the removal of the Shekhinah, and only appeared 
in extraordinary times or on account of great force, as 
that of Abraham, Moses, the expected Messiah, Elijah 
and their equals. In them the Shekhinah found a 
worthy abode, and their very existence helped their 


contemporaries to gain the degree of prophecy. The 
people, after their return, still had Haggai, Zechariah, 
Ezra and others. Forty years later these prophets 
were succeeded by an assembly of Sages, called the Men 
of the Great Synode. They were too numerous to be 
counted. They had returned with Zerubbabel and 
inherited their tradition from the Prophets, as it is 
said : ' The prophets handed [the law] down to the Men of 
the Great Synode' (Aboth, I. L). The next generation 
was that of the High Priest JSimon the Just and his 
disciples and friends. He was followed by Antigonos 
of Socho of great fame. His disciples were Sadok and 
Boethos who were the originators of the sects called 
after them Saddocaeans and Boethosians. The next was 
Jose b. Jo'ezer ' the most pious among the priests,' 33 
and Josef b. Johanan and their friends. With regard 
to the former it was said : ' At the death of Jose b. 
Jo'ezer the grapes ceased ' 34 as it is said : ' No grapes 
to eat ; ' (Mic. vii. 1 ), for no sin of his was know from 
his youth to his death. He was followed by Joshua b. 
Pera^yah whose history is known. Among his disciples 
was Jesus the Nazarene, and Nittai of Arbela was his 
contemporary. After him came Judah b. Tabbai and 
Simon b. Shetah, with the friends of both. At this 
period arose the doctrine of the Karaites in consequence 
of an incident between the Sages and King Jannai who 
was a priest. His mother was under suspicion of being 
a ' profane ' woman. One of the Sages alluded to 
this, saying to him : ' Be satisfied, king Jannai, with 
the royal crown, but leave the priestly crown to the 
seed of Aaron.' His friends prejudiced him against 
the Sages, advising him to browbeat, expel, and scatter 
or kill them. He replied : ' If I destroy the Sages what 


will become of our Law ? ' ' There is the written law,' 
they replied, whoever wishes to study it may come and 
do so ; take no heed of the oral law.' He followed their 
advice and expelled the Sages and among them Simon b. 
Shetah, his son-in-law. 35 Babbanism was laid low 
for some time. The other party tried to establish a 
law built on their own conception, but failed, till Simon b. 
Shetah returned with his disciples from Alexandria, 
and restored tradition to its former condition. Karaism 
had, however, taken root among people who rejected 
the oral law, and called all kinds of proofs to their aid, 
as we see to-day. As regards the Sadocaeans and 
Boethosians, they are the sectarians who are anathem- 
ised in our prayer. 36 The followers of Jesus are the Bap- 
tists who adopted the doctrine of baptism, being baptized 
in the Jordan. The Karaites turned their attention 
to the fundamental principles, deducing the special 
laws from them by mea.ns of arguments. The damage 
often extended to the roots, through their ignorance 
rather than intention. The next generation was that 
of Shema'yah and Abtalion, whose disciples were Hillel 
and Shammai. Hillel was famous for his learning and 
gentleness. He was a descendant of David and lived 
a hundred and twenty years. 37 He had thousands of 
pupils. The following was said about the most select 
of these : 38 Hillel the elder had eighty disciples. Thirty 
were worthy of association with the Shekhinah ; thirty 
were fit to declare embolismic years, and twenty stood 
between the two former groups. The greatest of them 
was Jonathan b. Uzzi'el,the least of them was Johanan b. 
Zakkai, who left unstudied no verse in the Bible, nor 
Mishnah, Talmud, Halakha, Agada, explanatory rules 
of the Sages and Scribes, nor any word of the law code. 


It was said concerning him, that he never held a profane 
conversation, was always the last and first in the house 
of study, never slept there even for a few minutes, 
never walked four yards without a word of Torah or 
phylacteries, never sat idle, but studied deeply. No one 
lectured to his pupils but he, said nothing but what he 
had heard from the mouth of his teacher, and never 
said that it was time to leave the house of study. This 
was also characteristic of his disciple R. Eliezer. R. 
Johanan b. Zakkai lived a hundred and twenty years 
like his master, and saw the second Temple. 39 Among 
his disciples was R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanos, the author 
of the 'Chapters of R. Eliezer,' 40 a famous work on astro- 
nomy, calculation of the spheres and earth and other 
profound astronomical subjects. His pupil was R. 
Ishmael b. Elisha, the High Priest. He is the author 
of the works entitled ' Hekhaloth ' 41 , ' Hakharath 
Panim,' and the ' Ma'ase Merkabah,' 42 because he was 
initiated in the secrets of this science, being worthy of 
a degree near prophecy. He is responsible for the follow- 
ing utterance : ' Once I entered [the Holy of Holiest] 
in order to burn the incense, and I saw Akhteriel Yah, 
the Lord of Hosts,' etc. 43 Another pupil of his was the 
famous R. Joshua between whom and Rabban Gamaliel 
occurred the well known affair ; 44 further R. Jose, and 
R. Elazar b. Arakh. Of the last named it was said : 
'If all Sages of Israel were placed on one scale and Elazar 
b. Arakh on the other, he would outweigh them. 45 ' 
Beside those famous men and many Sages, priests and 
Levites whose calling was the study of the law, there 
flourished undisturbed in the same period the seventy 
learned members of the Synhedrion 46 on whose au- 
thority officials were appointed or deposed. With 


reference to this it is told : R. Simon b. Johai said : * I 
heard from the mouth of the seventy elders on the day 
when R. Eliezer b. Azariah was appointed President of 
the Academy. 47 ' These seventy had a hundred followers, 
the latter thousands ; for, seventy such accomplished 
men can best be selected from hundreds standing beneath 
them and so on by degrees. In the next generation 
after the destruction of the Temple, there lived R. 
Aldbah and R. Tarfon and R. Jose of Galilee with their 
friends. R. Aklbah reached a degree so near prophecy 
that he held intercourse with the spiritual world, as it 
is said : Four persons entered paradise ; 48 one of them 
peeped in and died, the other did the same and was 
hurt ; the third did likewise and cut the plants down, 
and only one entered in peace and left in peace. This 
was R. Aklbah. The one who died was unable to bear 
the glance of the higher world, and his body collapsed. 49 
The second lost his mind and whispered divine frenzy 
without benefiting mankind. 50 The third fell into bad 
ways, because he ascended above human intelligence 
and said : ' Human actions are but instruments which 
lead up to spiritual heights. Having reached these I 
care not for religious ceremonies. He was corrupt and 
corrupted others, erred and caused others to err. 51 ' 
R. Aldbah conversed with both worlds without harm, 
and it was said of him : He was as worthy of associating 
with the Shekhinah as Moses, but the period was not 
propitious. 52 He was one of the ten martyrs, and during 
his torture enquired of his pupils, whether the time of 
reading the Shema' had arrived. They answered : ' 
our master ; even now ? ' 'All my days,' he answered, 1 1 
endeavoured to practise the words: "with all thy heart and 
all thy soul even if it costs thee thy life" ; now, when 


the opportunity has arisen, I will make them true.' 
He protracted the ehdd till his soul fled. 53 

66. Al Khazari : In'this way one may spend a happy 
life, and die a happy death, and then live an eternal 
life in never-ceasing bliss. 64 

67. The Rabbi : In the next generation lived K. 
Meir, E. Judah, R. Simon b. Azzai, and R. Hananyah 
b. Teradion and their friends. They were followed by 
Rabbi, viz. R. Judah Harmasi, ' our Teacher.' His 
contemporaries were R. Nathan, R. Joshua b. Korhah, 
and many others who were the last teachers of the 
Mishnah, also called Tannaim. They were followed 
by the Amoraim, who are the authorities of the Talmud. 
The Mishnah was compiled in the year 530, according 
the era of the ' Documents,' 55 which* corresponds to 
the year 150 after the destruction of the Temple, and 
530 years after the termination of prophecy. In the 
Mishnah were reproduced those sayings and doings 
which few out of many we have quoted. They 
treated the Mishnah with the same care as the Torah, 
arranging it in sections, chapters and paragraphs. Its 
traditions are so reliable that no suspicion of invention 
could be upheld. Besides this the Mishnah contains a 
large amount of pure Hebrew which is not borrowed 
from the Bible. 56 It is greatly distinguished by terse- 
ness of language, beauty of style, excellence of com- 
position, and the comprehensive employment of homo- 
nyms, applied in a lucid way, leaving neither doubt 
nor obscurity. This is so striking that every one 
who looks at it with genuine scrutiny must be aware 
that mortal man is incapable of composing such 
a work without divine assistance. Only he who is 
hostile to it, who does not know it, and never en- 


deavoured to read and study it, hearing some general 
and allegorical utterances of the Sages deems them 
senseless and defective, just as one who judges a person 
after meeting him, without having conversed with him 
for any length of time. The following saying of R. 
Nahum the Scribe will show how the Sages based 
their learning on that of the prophets : 57 'I have 
heard from R. Mayyasha, who learnt from the " pairs," 5S 
who had it from the prophets as an ordination given 
to Moses from Sinai.' 59 They were careful not to 
hand down .the teachings of single individuals, as is 
shown by the following saying uttered on the death- 
bed of one of them, to his son : ' My son, retract thy 
opinion on four subjects which I have taught thee.' 
' Wherefore,' asked the son, c didst thou not retract 
thine ? ' 'I learnt,' answered the father, ' from many 
who, in their turn, had learnt from many. I kept to 
my tradition, and they to theirs. Thou, however, 
didst learn only from one person. It is better to 
neglect the teachings of a single individual, and to 
accept that of the majority.' 6) These are a few say- 
ings, like a drop from the sea, showing the excellence 
of the traditions of the Mishnah. To give thee a sketch 
of the traditions and traditionists of the Talmud, and 
its methods, sentences and aphorisms, would lead us 
too far. And if there is in it many a thing which is 
considered less attractive to-day, it was yet held proper 
in those days. 

68. Al Khazari : Indeed, several details in their 
sayings appear to me inferior to their general prin- 
ciples. They employ verses of the Tor ah in a manner 
without regard to common sense. One can only say 
that the application of such verses once for legal de- 


ductions, another time for homiletic purposes, does not 
tally with their real meaning. Their Agadas and tales 
are often against reason. 

69. The Rabbi : Didst thou notice how strictly and 
minutely the comments on the Mishnah and Boraitha 
are given ? They speak with a thoroughness and 
lucidity which do equal justice both to the words and 
meaning of them. 

70. Al Khazari : I am well aware to what perfection 
they brought the art of dialectics, but this is an argu- 
ment 60a which cannot be refuted. 

71. The Rabbi : May we assume that he who pro- 
ceeds with so much thoroughness should not know as 
much of the contents of a verse as we know ? 

72. Al Khazari : This is most unlikely. Two cases 
are possible. Either we are ignorant of their method of 
interpreting the Torah, or the interpreters of the Rab- 
binic law are not identical with those of the Holy Writ. 
The latter point of view is absurd. It is seldom that we 
see them give a verse a rational and literal rendition, 
but, on the other hand, we never find them interpret a 
halakha except on the lines of strict logic. 

73. The Rabbi : Let us rather assume two other 
possibilities. Either they employ secret methods of 
interpretation which we are unable to discern, and 
which were handed down to them, together with the 
method of the ' Thirteen Rules of Interpretation,' or 
they use Biblical verses as a kind of fulcrum of inter- 
pretation in a method called AsmaJchtd, 61 and make 
them a sort of hall mark of tradition. An instance is 
given in the following verse : ' And the Lord God 
commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the 
garden thou mayest freely eat' (Gen. ii. 16 sq.). It 



forms the basis of the ' seven Noahide laws ' in the fol- 
lowing manner : 

[' He] commanded ' refers to jurisdiction. 

* The Lord ' ' refers to prohibition of blasphemy. 
4 God ' refers to prohibition of idolatry. 

' The man ' refers to prohibition of murder. 

* Saying ' refers to prohibition of incest. 

' Of every tree of the garden,' prohibition of rape. 
' Thou mayest surely eat,' a prohibition of flesh 
from the living animal. 

There is a wide difference between these injunctions 
and the verse. The people, however, accepted these 
seven laws as tradition, connecting them with the verse 
as aid to memory. It is also possible that they applied 
both methods of interpreting verses, or others which 
are now lost to us. Considering the well-known wisdom, 
piety, zeal, and number of the Sages which excludes a 
common plan, it is our duty to follow them. If we feel 
any doubt, it is not due to their words, but to our own 
intelligence. This also applies to the Torah and its 
contents. We must ascribe the defective understand- 
ing of it to ourselves. As to the Agadas, many serve 
as basis and introduction for explanations and in- 
junctions. For instance : the saying, ' When the Lord 
descended to Egypt,' etc. is designed to confirm the 
belief that the delivery from Egypt was a deliberate 
act of God, and not an accident, nor achieved with the 
assistance of human plotting, spirits, stars, and angels, 
jinn, or any other fanciful creation of the mind. It 
was done by God's providence alone. Statements of 
this kind are introduced by the word kib'jakhol, which 


means : If this could be so and so, it would be so and 
so. Although this is not to be found in the Talmud, 
but only in a few other works, it is to be so understood 
wherever it is found. This is also the meaning of the 
words of Micaiah, when he said to Ahab : I saw the 
Lord sitting on his throne . . . host of heaven. And 
the Lord said, who shall persuade Ahab. . . . And 
there came forth a spirit,' etc. (1 Kings, xxii. 19 sqq.) 
As a matter of fact all that he intended conveying was : 
Behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of 
all these prophets. Verses of this kind serve as a 
fulcrum and induction, rendering a subject eloquent, 
apposite, and showing that it is based on truth. To 
the same category belong tales of visions of spirits, a 
matter which is not strange in such pious men. Some 
of the visions they saw were the consequence of their 
lofty thoughts and pure minds, others were really 
apparent, as was the case with those seen by the pro- 
phets. Such is the nature of the Bath Qol, often heard 
during the time of the second Temple, and regarded 
as ranking next to prophecy and the Divine voice. Do 
not consider strange what R. Ishmael said : ' I heard 
a voice cooing like a dove, etc.' For the histories of 
Moses and Elijah prove that such a thing is possible, 
and when a true account is given, it must be accepted 
as such. In a similar sense we must take the words : 
' Woe unto me that I have destroyed my house ' 62 
(Gen. vi. 6), which is of the same character as: 'And it 
repented the Lord, . . . and it grieved Him at His 
heart.' Other Rabbinic sayings are parables em- 
ployed to express mysterious teachings which were not 
to be made public. For they are of no use to the 
masses, and were only handed over to a few select persons 


for research and investigation, if a proper person suit- 
able one in an age, or in several could be found. Other 
sayings appear senseless on the face of them, but that 
they have their meaning, becomes apparent after but a 
little reflection. The following is an instance : Seven 
things were created prior to the world : Paradise, the 
Torah, the just, Israel, the throne of glory, Jerusalem, 
and the Messiah, the son of David.' 63 This is similar 
to the saying of some philosophers : ' The primary 
thought includes the final deed.' It was the object of 
divine wisdom in the creation of the world to create 
the Torah, which was the essence of wisdom, and whose 
bearers are the just, among whom stands the throne of 
glory and the truly righteous, who are the most select, viz. 
Israel, and the proper place for them was Jerusalem, 
and only the best of men, viz. the Messiah, son of David, 
could be associated with them, and they all entered 
Paradise. Figuratively speaking, one must assume 
that they were created prior to the world. Seemingly 
against common sense is also the saying : Ten things 
were created in the twilight, viz. the opening of the 
earth, the opening of the spring, the mouth of the she 
ass, etc., 64 as otherwise the Torah were out of har- 
mony with nature. Nature claims to pursue its regular 
course, whilst the Torah claims to alter this regular 
course. The solution is that ordinary natural phe- 
nomena are altered within natural limits, since they 
had been primarily fixed by the divine will, and clearly 
laid down from the six days of creation. I will not 
deny, King of the Khazars, that there are matters 
in the Talmud of which I am unable to give thee a 
satisfactory explanation, nor even bring them in con- 
nexion with the whole. These things stand in the 


Talmud through the conscientiousness of the disciples, 
who followed the principle that ' even the common- 
place talk of the Sages requires study.' 65 They took 
care to reproduce only that which they had heard from 
their teachers, striving at the same time to understand 
everything they had heard from their masters. In this 
they went so far as to render it in the same words, 66 
although they may not have grasped its meaning. In 
this case they said : ' Thus have we been taught and 
have heard.' Occasionally the teacher concealed from 
his pupils the reasons which prompted him to make 
certain statements. But the matter came down to us 
in this form, and we think little of it, because we do not 
know its purport. For the whole of this relates to topics 
which do not touch on lawful or unlawful matters. 
Let us not therefore trouble about it, and the book will 
lose nothing if we consider the points discussed here. 
74. Al Khazari : Thou hast pleased me greatly, and 
strengthened my belief in tradition. Now I should like 
to learn something of the scientific pursuits of the Sages. 
But previously give me a discourse on the names of 
God. On this subject thou canst speak at greater 



1. THE Rabbi : ELOHIM is a term signifying pro- 
prietor or governor of the world, if I allude to the 
possession of the whole of it, and of a portion, if I refer 
to the powers either of nature or the spheres, or of 
a human judge. The word has a plural form, because 
it was'so used by gentile idolaters, who believed that 
every deity was invested with astral and other powers. 
Each of these was called Eloah ; their united forces 
were therefore, called Elohim. They swore by them, 
and behaved as if bound to abide by their judgments. 
These deities were as numerous as are the forces which 
sway the human body and the universe. c Force ' is 
a name for any of the causes of motion. Every motion 
arises from a force of its own, to the exclusion of other 
forces. The spheres of the sun and moon are not 
subject to one force, but to different ones. These 
people did not take into account the prime power from 
which all these forces emanated, because they did not 
acknowledge its existence. They asserted that the 
sum total of these forces was styled Eloah, just as the 
sum total of the forces which control the human body 
was called ' soul.' Or they admitted the existence of 
God, but maintained that to serve Him was of no use. 
They considered Him too far removed and exalted to 


PART IV 199 

have any knowledge of us, much less to care about us. 1 
Far from God are such notions. As a result of their 
theories they worshipped, not one being, but many, 
which they styled ' Elohim.' This is a collective form 
which comprises all causes equally. A more exact and 
more lofty name is to be found in the form known as 
the Tetragrammaton. This is a proper noun, which 
can only be indicated by attributes, but has no location, 
and was formerly unknown. If He was commonly 
styled ' Elohim,' the Tetragrammaton was used as 
special name. This is as if one asked : Which God is 
to be worshipped, the sun, the moon, the heaven, the 
signs of the zodiac, any star, fire, a spirit, or celestial 
angels, etc. ; each of these, taken singly, has an activity 
and force, and causes growth and decay ? The answer 
to this question is : ' The Lord,' just as if one would 
say : A. B., or a proper name, as Ruben or Simeon, 
supposing that these names indicate their personalities. 

2. Al Khazari : How can I individualise a being, if 
I am not able to point to it, and can only prove its exist- 
ence by its actions ? 

3. The Rabbi : It can be designated by prophetic 
or visionary means. Demonstration can lead astray. 
Demonstration was the mother of heresy and destruc- 
tive ideas. What was it, if not the wish to demon- 
strate, that led the dualists to assume two eternal 
causes ? And what led materialists to teach that the 
sphere was not only eternal, but its own primary cause, 
as well as that of other matter ? The worshippers of 
fire and sun are but the result of the desire to demon- 
strate. There are differences in the ways of demon- 
stration, of which some are more extended than others. 
Those who go to the utmost length are the philosophers, 


and the ways of their arguments led them to teach of 
a Supreme Being which neither benefits nor injures, 
and knows nothing of our prayers, offerings, obedience, 
or disobedience, and that the world is as eternal as He 
Himself. None of them applies a distinct proper name 
to God, except he who hears His address, command, or 
prohibition, approval for obedience, and reproof for 
disobedience. He bestows on Him some name as a 
designation for Him who spoke to him, and he is con- 
vinced that He is the Creator of the world from nought. 
The first man would never have known Him if He had 
not addressed, rewarded and punished him, and had 
not created Eve from one of his ribs. This gave him 
the conviction that this was the Creator of the world, 
whom he designated by words and attributes, and 
styled ' Lord.' Without this he would have been 
satisfied with the name Elohim, neither perceiving 
what He was, nor whether He was a unity or many, 
whether He was cognizant of individuals or not. Cain 
and Abel were made acquainted with the nature of His 
being by the communications of their father as well 
as by prophetic intuition. Then Noah, Abraham, 
Isaac and Jacob, Moses and the prophets called Him 
intuitively ' Lord,' as also did the people, having been 
taught by tradition that His influence and guidance 
were with men. His influence also being with the 
pious, they comprehended Him by means of inter- 
mediaries called : glory, Shekhinah, dominion, fire, cloud, 
likeness, form, ' the appearance of the bow,' etc. (Ezek. 
i. 28). For they proved to them that He had spoken 
to them, and they styled it: Glory of God. Occa- 
sionally they addressed the holy ark by the name of 
God, as it is written : ' Rise up, Lord,' (Numb. x. 

PART IV 201 

35, 36), when they made a start, and ' Return, Lord ' 
when they halted, or ' God is gone up with a shout, 
the Lord with the sound of the trumpet ' (Ps. xlvii. 6), 
With all this only the ark of the Lord is meant. 
Sometimes the name ' Lord ' was applied to the connect- 
ing link between God and Israel, as it is written : ' Do 
not I hate them, Lord, that hate thee ? ' (Ps. 
cxxxix, 21). By ' haters of the Lord ' are meant those 
who hate the name, or covenant, or the law of God. For 
there exists no connexion between God and any other 
nation, as He pours out His light only on the select 
people. They are accepted by Him, and He by them. 
He is called ' the God of Israel,' whilst they are ' the 
people of the Lord,' and c the people of the God of 
Abraham.' Even supposing some nations had fol- 
lowed Him and worshipped Him, their conversion 
being the result of hearsay and tradition, yet where do 
we find His acceptance of them and His connexion with 
them, His pleasure in their obedience, His anger for 
their disobedience ? We see them left to nature and 
chance by which their prosperity or misfortune are 
determined, but not by an influence which proves to 
be of divine origin alone. Thus also we alone are meant 
in the words : ' So the Lord alone did lead him, and 
there was no strange god with him (Deut. xxxii. 12). 
The Tetragrammaton is a name exclusively employ- 
able by us, as no other people knows its true meaning. 
It is a proper name which takes no article, as is the 
case with Elohim in the form hddohim. It belongs, 
therefore, to the prerogatives by which we are dis- 
tinguished. Although its meaning is hidden, the letters 
of which it is composed speak. For it is the letters 
alef, he, wdv and yod which cause all consonants to be 


sounded, as no letter can be pronounced as long as it 
is not supported by one of these four, viz. a by alef and 
he, u by wdv, and i by yod. They form, so to speak, the 
spirit in the bodies of the consonants. The name yah 
is like the Tetragrammaton (Exod. iii. 14). As to 
EH'YEH, it can be derived from the latter name, or from 
the root hdydh, and its tendency is to prevent the 
human mind from pondering over an incomprehensible 
but real entity. When Moses asked : ' And they shall 
say to me, What is His name ? ' the answer was : 
Why should they ask concerning things they are unable 
to grasp ? In a like manner the angel answered : 
c Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is 
secret ? ' (Judg. xiii. 18). Say to them eh'yeh, which 
means : ' I am that I am,' the existing one, existing 
for you whenever you seek me. Let them search for 
no stronger proof than My presence among them, and 
name Me accordingly. Moses therefore answered : 
' Eh'yeh has sent me to you.' God had previously 
given a similar proof to Moses in the words : ' Cer- 
tainly I will be with thee, and this shall be a token 
unto thee,' etc. (Exod. iii. 12), viz. that I have sent 
thee, and am with thee everywhere. This is followed 
by a similar phrase, viz. ' The God of your fathers, the 
God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of 
Jacob,' persons known to have been favoured by the 
Divine Influence perpetually. As regards the terms : 
Elohe hdelohim, it is a designation for the fact that all 
creative forces are depending upon God, who arranges 
and guides them. ' Lord of lords ' has the same mean- 
ing. EL is derived from ayaluth, being the source of 
the forces [of nature], but exalted above them. The 
expression : ' Who is like unto thee among the elim? 

PART IV 203 

is, therefore, permissible, placing el into the plural 
form. HOLY expresses the notion that He is high 
above any attribute of created beings, although many 
of these are applied to him metaphorically. For this 
reason Isaiah heard an endless : ' Holy, holy, holy,' 
which meant that God is too high, too exalted, too 
holy, and too pure for any impurity of the people in 
whose midst His light dwells to touch Him. For the 
same reason Isaiah saw him ' sitting upon a throne, 
high and lifted up.' Holy is, further, a description of 
the spiritual, which never assumes a corporeal form, 
and which nothing concrete can possibly resemble. 
God is called : the Holy One of Israel, which is another 
expression for the Divine Influence connected with 
Israel himself and the whole of his posterity, to rule and 
guide them, but not to be merely in external contact 
with them. Not everyone who wishes is permitted 
to say, ' My God and Holy One ! ' except in a meta- 
phorical and traditional way. In reality only a prophet 
or a pious person with whom the Divine Influence is 
connected may say so. For this reason they said to 
the prophet : ' Pray to the Lord, thy God ' (1 Kings 
xiii. 6). The relation of this nation to others was to 
have been like that of a king to ordinary people, as it is 
written : ' Holy shall ye be, for holy am I the Lord, 
your God' (Lev. xix. 2). ADONAI, spelt alef, daleth, 
nun, yod points to something which stands at such an 
immeasurable altitude that a real designation is impos- 
sible. Indication is possible in one direction only. We 
can point to things created by Him, and which form His 
immediate tools. Thus we allude to the intellect, and 
say that its seat is in the heart or brain. We also say 
4 this ' or ' that intellect.' In reality we can only point 


to a thing enclosed by a space. Although all organs 
obey the intellect, they do so through the medium of 
the heart or brain, which are its primary tools, which 
are considered as the abode of the intellect. 

In a like manner we point to heaven, because it is 
employed to carry out the divine will directly, and with- 
out the assistance of intermediary factors. On the other 
hand we cannot point to compound objects, because 
they can only operate with the assistance of inter- 
mediary causes, and are connected with God in a chain - 
like manner. For He is the cause of causes. 2 He is 
also called e He who dwelleth in heaven ' (Ps. cxxiii. 1), 
and " For God is in heaven,' (Eccl. v. 1 ). One often 
says, 4 Fear of heaven,' and ' fearing heaven in secret,' 
4 mercy shall come for them from heaven.' In a similar 
way we speak of the * pillar of fire,' or the ' pillar of 
cloud,' worship them, and say that God is therein, 
because this pillar carried out His will exclusively, 
unlike other clouds and fires which arise in the air from 
different causes. Thus we also speak of the ' devouring 
fire on the top of the mount' (Exod. xxiv. 17), which 
the common people saw, as well as of the spiritual form 
which was visible only to the higher classes : ' under His 
feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone ' (ver. 10). 
He is further styled : Living God. The holy ark is 
alluded to as ' The Lord of the whole earth,' because 
miracles happened as long as it existed, and disappeared 
with it. We say that it is the eye which sees, whilst in 
reality it is the soul that sees. Prophets and pious Sages 
are spoken of in similar terms, because they, too, are 
original instruments of the divine will which employs 
them without meeting with unwillingness, and performs 
miracles through them. In illustration of this the 

PART IV 205 

Rabbis said : ' The words : Thou shalt fear the Lord 
thy God,' include the learned disciples. He who 
occupies such a degree has a right to be styled ' a man 
of God,' a description comprising human and divine 
qualities, and as if one would say : godly man. Now 
in speaking of a divine being we use the appellation, 
Adonai alef, daleth, nun, yod as if we wished to say : 
' Lord.' Metaphorically speaking, we point to a 
thing encompassed by a place as : c He who dwells 
between the cherubim,' or ' He who dwells in Zion,' or, 
' He who abides in Jerusalem.' The attributes of this kind 
are many, although His essence is only one. The variety 
arises from the variety of places where God's essence 
dwells, just as the rays of the sun are many whilst the 
sun is everywhere the same. This simile is not quite 
complete. Were only the rays of the sun visible, but 
not the sun itself, their origin would have to be demon- 
strated. I must enlarge on this subject a little more, 
because there are debatable points about it, viz. firstly, 
how it is possible to speak of space in connexion with 
a being that has no place ; secondly, how can one 
believe that a subject to which one can point could be 
the Prime Cause ? In reply to these objections we say 
in the first instance, that the senses can only perceive the 
attributes of things, not the substrata themselves. In 
a prince e.g., thou perceivest his external and visible 
form and proportions. It is not these to which thou 
must render homage. Thou seest him in war in one 
habit, in his city in another, in his house in a third. 
Following thy judgment rather than thy perception, 
thou sayest that he is the king. He may appear first 
as a boy, then as a youth, then in his prime, and 
finally as an old man ; or as a healthy or sick man, his 


appearance, manner, disposition and qualities being 
changed. Still thou considerest him to be the same and 
the king, because he has spoken to thee and given thee 
his commands. The royal side of him is but the 
intellectual and rational one, but this is essence, not 
limited to space and not to be pointed to, although thou 
dost so and sayest that he is the king. But if he is 
dead, and thou seest the same old form, thou wilt con- 
clude that this is not the king, but a body which can 
be moved by whoso wishes, which depends upon 
chance and other peoples' humour, like a cloud in the 
air which one wind brings hither and another drives 
away, one wind gathers, another disperses. Previously 
he was a body which was subject to the royal will alone, 
resembling the divine pillar of cloud which no wind 
was able to disperse. Another instance is offered by the 
sun, which we see as a round, flat body, resembling a 
shield and giving forth light and heat, being in repose. 
Reason considers it to be a globe a hundred and sixty-six 
times larger than the globe of the earth, 3 neither hot nor 
immovable, but moving in two opposite directions, from 
west to east, and from east to west, under conditions it 
would lead us too far to discuss. The senses have not 
the faculty of perceiving the essence of things. They 
only have the special power of perceiving the accidental 
peculiarities belonging to them which furnish reason 
with the arguments for their essence and causes. Why 
and wherefore are accessible to pure reason only. Every- 
thing that shares active intellect, like the angels, grasps 
the subjects in their true essence without requiring the 
medium of accessories. But our intellect which a priori 
is only theoretical, being sunk in matter, cannot pene- 
trate to the true knowledge of things, except by the 

PART IV 207 

grace of God, by special faculties which He has placed 
in the senses, and which resemble those perceptible 
accessories, but are always found with the whole species. 
There is no difference between my perception and thine 
that this circumscribed disc, giving forth light and heat, 
is the sun. Should even these characteristics be denied 
by reason, this does no harm, because we can derive from 
it arguments for our purposes. Thus also a sharp-eyed 
person, looking for a camel, can be assisted by a weak- 
eyed and squinting one who tells him that he has seen 
two cranes at a certain place. The sharp-eyed person 
then knows that the other has only seen a camel, and 
that the weakness of his eyes made him believe that it 
was a crane, and his squint that there were two cranes. 
In this way the sharp-eyed person can make use of the 
evidence of the weak-eyed one, whilst he excuses his 
faulty description by his defective sight. A similar 
relation prevails between senses and imagination on 
one side, and reason on the other. The Creator was 
as wise in arranging this relation between the exterior 
senses and the things perceived, as He was in fixing the 
relation between the abstract sense and the uncorpor- 
eal substratum. To the chosen among His creatures He 
has given an inner eye which sees things as they really 
are, without any alteration. Reason is thus in a position 
to come to a conclusion regarding the true spirit of these 
things. He to whom this eye has been given is clear- 
sighted indeed. Other people who appear to him as 
blind, he guides on their way. It is possible that this 
eye is the power of imagination as long as it is under 
the control of the intellect. It beholds, then, a grand and 
and awful sight which reveals unmistakeable truths. 
The best proof of its truth is the harmony prevailing 


among the whole of this species and those sights. By 
this I mean all the prophets. For they witnessed things 
which one described to the other in the same manner as 
we do with things we have seen. We testify to the 
sweetness of honey and the bitterness of the coloquinth. 
and if anyone contradicts us, we say that he has failed 
to grasp a fact of natural history. Those prophets 
without doubt saw the divine world with the inner eye ; 
they beheld a sight which harmonized with their 
natural imagination. Whatever they wrote down, they 
endowed with attributes as if they had seen them in 
corporeal form. These attributes are true as far as 
regards what is sought by inspiration, imagination, and 
feeling ; they are untrue as regards the reality which is 
sought by reason, as we have seen in the parable of the 
king. For anyone who says that he is a tall, white 
figure clothed in silk, and wearing the royal insignia on 
his head has spoken no untruth. Whilst he who says 
that this is none other than the intelligent, sagacious 
person, who issues commands and prohibitions, in this 
city, in this age, and rules this people, has not spoken an 
untruth either. If a prophet sees with his mind's eye the 
most perfect figure ever beheld in the shape of a king 
or judge, seated on his throne, issuing commands 
and prohibitions, appointing and deposing officials, 
then he knows that this figure resembles a powerful 
prince. But if he sees a figure bearing arms or writing 
utensils, or ready to undertake work, then he knows 
that this figure resembles an obedient servant. Do 
not^find it out of place that man should be compared 
to God. Upon deeper consideration reason might 
compare him to light, because this is the noblest and 
finest of all material things, and which has the greatest 

PART IV 209 

power of encompassing the component parts of the world. 
If we reflect on the attributes (which are essential 
whether they be taken in metaphorical or real sense) 
such as : living, omniscient, almighty, omnipotent, 
guiding, arranging, giving everything its due, wise and 
just, we shall find nothing resembling God more 
closely than the rational soul in other words, the perfect 
human being. But here we must lay stress on his 
human character, not on his corporeality (which he has 
in common with the plant), or on his being endowed 
with life (which he has in common with the animals). 
Philosophers compared the world to a great man, and 
man to a small world. 4 If this be so, God being the spirit, 
soul, intellect and life of the world as He is called : the 
eternally Living, then rational comparison is plausible. 
Nay, a prophet's eye is more penetrating than specu- 
lation. His sight reaches up to the heavenly host 
direct, he sees the dwellers in heaven, and the spiritual 
beings which are near God, and others in human form. 
They are alluded to in the verse : ' Let us make man in 
our image after our likeness ' (Gen. i. 26). The meaning 
is : I have displayed wisdom in arranging the creation in 
the following order: elements, metals, animals which 
live in the water as well as in the air, and those with 
fully developed senses and wonderful instincts. Next 
to this class there is only one which approaches 
the divine and celestial. God created man in the form of 
His angels and servants which are near Him, not in 
place but in rank, as we cannot speak of place in con- 
nexion with God. Even after these two comparisons, 
imagination can give him no other form than that of the 
noblest human being, who arranges order and harmony 
for the rest of mankind, in the same systematic way as 



God has done for the universe. At times the prophet 
sees princes deposed and others raised to the throne, 
and kingdoms judged, ' till the thrones were placed, and 
the Ancient of Days did sit ' (Dan. vii. 9) ; at other 
times he sees wrath poured out and the people in 
mourning on account of their threatened abandonment 
by Him, ' Who is sitting upon a throne high and lifted 
up ... above it stood the seraphim.' (Is. vi. 1 sq.). At 
other times, even outside the confines of prophecy, he sees 
the departure of the chariot as Ezechiel saw it, and 
retained it in his memory. For when the geographical 
limits of the land of prophecy were fixed, ' from the 
Red Sea, till the sea of the Philistines,' the desert of 
Sinai, Paran, Seir and Egypt were included. This 
area was also privileged. Whenever a person was found in 
it who fulfilled all the necessary conditions, these sights 
became distinctly visible to him, ' apparently, and not 
in dark speeches,' just as Moses saw the Tabernacle, 
the sacrificial worship, and the land of Canaan in all 
its parts ; or in the scene when, ' the Lord passed by 
before him.' Elijah had a vision also within this area. 
These things, which cannot be approached by specu- 
lation, have been rejected by Greek philosophers, 
because speculation negatives everything the like of 
which it has not seen. Prophets, however, confirm it, 
because they cannot deny what they were privileged to 
behold with their mind's eye. Such a number of them, 
living as they did in various epochs, could not have acted 
upon some common understanding. These statements 
were borne out by contemporary sages who had witnessed 
their prophetic afflatus. Had the Greek philosophers seen 
them when they prophesied and performed miracles, 
they~"would have acknowledged them, and sought by 

PART IV 211 

speculative means to discover how to achieve such 
things. Some of them did, so especially gentile philoso- 
phers. The name Adonai, (spelt alef, daleth, nun, 
yod) must be understood in a similar way, because 
of the idea of divine sovereignty which it conveys. 
We say : * my Lord,' or, ' Messengership of the Lord,' 
which is another name for divine ordination. Some 
angels are only created for the time being from fine 
elementary corpuscles, others are lasting, and are 
perhaps those spiritual beings of which the prophets 
speak. We have neither to refute nor to adopt their 
views. Concerning the visions seen by Isaiah, Ezechiel, 
and Daniel, there is some doubt whether their objects 
were newly created, or of the number of those lasting 
spiritual beings. ' Glory of God ' is that fine substance 
which follows the will of God, assuming any form God 
wishes to show to the prophet. This is one view. 
According to another view the Glory of God means the 
whole of the angels and spiritual beings, as well as the 
throne, chariot, firmament, wheels, spheres, and other 
imperishable beings. All this is styled ' Glory,' just 
as a king's retinue is called his splendour. Perhaps 
that was what Moses desired, when he said : ' I beseech 
Thee, shew me Thy glory.' God fulfilled his wish on 
the condition that he should not see His face which no 
mortal could endure, as He said : ' And thou shalt see 
My back parts, but My face shall not be seen. 1 This 
includes the glory which the prophet's eye could bear, 
and there are things in its wake which even our eye can 
behold, as the ' cloud,' and ' the devouring fire,' be- 
cause we are accustomed to see them. The higher 
degrees of these are so transcendental that even pro- 
phets cannot perceive them. He, however, who 


boldly endeavours to do so impairs his constitution, even 
as the power of sight is impaired. People with weak 
eyes only see by subdued light after sunset, like the bat. 
Weak-eyed people can only see in the shadow, but people 
with strong eyes can see in sunlight. No eye, however, 
can look into the bright sun, and he who attempts to do 
so is stricken with blindness. Such is the explanation 
of the ' Glory of God,' ' the Angels of the Lord,' and the 
* Shekhinah of the Lord,' as they are called in the Bible. 
Occasionally they are applied to objects of nature, e.g., 
' Full is the whole earth of His glory,' (Is. vi. 6), or, 
'His kingdom ruleth over all' (Ps. ciii. 19). In truth, 
glory and kingdom do not become visible except to the 
pious, and the pure, and to the prophets who impart 
the conviction to the heretic that judgment and rule 
on earth belong to God, who knows every action 
of man. If this be so, it can truly be said, ' The Lord is 
King,' and ' the Glory of God shall be revealed.' ' The 
Lord shall reign for ever, thy God Zion, unto all 
generations,' ' Say ye to Zion, thy God reigneth,' ' the 
Glory of the Lord is risen uponthee.' Nowthouwilt 
not reject every thing that has been said concerning such 
verses as : ' The similitude of the Lord shall he behold ' 
(Num. xii. 8), ' they saw the Lord of Israel,' nor maaseh 
merkdbdh and Sheur Komdh, because in the opinion 
of some interpreters the reverence of God is implanted 
in the human mind, as it is written : ' That His fear 
may be before your faces.' 

4. Al Khazari : If there be conviction in the mind 
that God's is the kingdom, the unity, omnipotence, and 
omniscience, and that everything is dependent upon 
Him, He being dependent upon no one, then is not 
reverence and love for Him a necessary consequence, 
without such anthropomorphisms ? 

PART IV 213 

5. The Rabbi : This is a doctrine of philosophers. We 
see that the human soul shows fear whenever it meets 
with anything terrible, but not at the mere report of 
such a thing. It is likewise attracted by a beautiful 
form which strikes the eye, but not so much by one 
that is only spoken of. Do not believe him who con- 
siders himself wise in thinking that he is so far advanced 
that he is able to grasp all metaphysical problems with 
the abstract intellect alone, without the support of 
anything that can be conceived or seen, such as words, 
writing, or any visible or imaginary forms. Seest thou 
not that thou art not able even to collect the burden 
of thy prayer in thought alone, without reciting it ? 
Neither canst thou reckon up to a hundred without 
speaking, still less if this hundred be composed of 
different numbers. Were it not for the sensible percep- 
tion which encompasses the organization of the intellect 
by means of similar sayings, that organization could 
not be maintained. In this way, prophets' images 
picture God's greatness, power, loving kindness, om- 
niscience, life, eternity, government, and independence, 
the dependence of everything on Him, His unity, 
and holiness, and in one sudden flash stands revealed 
this grand and majestic figure with its splendour, its 
characteristics, the instruments which typify power, 
etc., the up -lifted hand, the unsheathed sword, fire, wind, 
thunder and lightning which obey his behest, the word 
which goes forth to warn, to announce what has hap- 
pened, and to predict. Many angels stand humbly 
before Him, and He gives them according to their 
requirements without stint. He raises the lowly, 
humbles the mighty, and holds out His hand to the 
repentant, saying to them : * Who is conscious [of 


a sin] shall repent ' (Jonah iii. 9). He is wroth with the 
wicked, deposes and appoints, whilst before Him 
* thousand thousands minister unto Him ' (Dan. vii. 10). 
Such are the visions which the prophet sees in one second. 
Thus fear and love come to him naturally, and remain 
in his^heart for the whole of his life. He even yearns 
and longs to behold the vision again and again. Such a 
repetition was considered a great event for Solomon, in 
the words : ' The Lord who has appeared to him 
twice ' (1 Kings xi. 9). Will a philosopher ever achieve 
the same result ? 

6. Al Khazari : That is impossible. Thinking is like 
narrating, but one cannot recount two things at the 
same time. Should this even be possible, no one 
who hears them, can absorb them simultaneously. 
The details of a country and of its inhabitants which it is 
possible to see in one hour would not find room in a large 
volume, whilst in one moment love or hatred of 
a country could enter my heart. If all this were 
read to me from a book it would not impress me 
so greatly, but would, on the contrary, confuse my 
mind, being mixed up with errors, fancies and pre- 
vious impressions. And nothing would be completely 

7. The Rabbi : We are like those weak-eyed persons 
who cannot bear the brightness of the light. We, 
therefore, imitate the sharp-eyed who lived before us 
and were able to see. Now just as a person with sound 
eyes can only look at the sun, shew it to others and 
observe it from certain elevated spots, and at a certain 
hour of the day when it rises, so also he who may gaze 
at the divine light, has his times and places in which he 
can behold it. These times are the hours of prayer, 

PART IV 215 

especially on days of repentance, and the places are 
those of prophecy. 

8. Al Khazari : I see, then, that thou dost admit 
the dominion of hours, days, and places, as the as- 
trologers do. 

9. The Rabbi : We cannot deny that the heavenly 
spheres exercise influence on terrestrial matters. We 
must admit that the material components of growth 
and decay are dependent on the sphere, whilst the forms 
take their origin from Him who arranges and guides 
them, and makes them the instruments for the pre- 
servation of all the things which He wishes should 
exist. The particulars are unknown to us. The as- 
trologer boasts of knowing them, but we repudiate it, 
and assert that no mortal can fathom them. If we 
find that any element of this science is based on the 
divine law, we accept it. But even then we must 
rest satisfied with such astronomical proficiency as 
was possessed by the Sages, since we desire that it be 
supported by divine power, and correct withal. If 
this be wanting, it is but fiction, and there is more 
truth in our earthly lot than in the celestial one. He 
who is capable of gauging these matters is the real 
prophet ; the place where they are visible is the true 
place of worship. For it is a divine place, and the law 
coming forth from it is the true religion. 

10. Al Khazari : Certainly, if later religions admit 
the truth, and do not dispute it, then they all respect 
the place, and call it the stepping stone of the prophets, 
the gate of heaven, the place of gathering of the souls 
[on the day of judgment]. 5 They, further, admit the 
existence of prophecy among Israel, whose forefathers 
were distinguished in a like manner. Finally they 


believe in the work of creation, the flood, and nearly 
all that is contained in the Torah. They also perform 
pilgrimages to this hallowed place. 

11. The Rabbi : I would compare them to proselytes 
who did not accept the whole law in all its branches, but 
only the fundamental principles, if their actions did 
not belie their words. Their veneration of the land 
of prophecy consists chiefly in words, and at the same 
time they also revere places sacred to idols. Such is 
the case in places in which an assembly happened to 
meet, but in which no sign of God became visible. 
Retaining the relics of ancient idolatry and feast days, 
they changed nothing but the forms. These were, 
indeed, demolished, but the relics were not removed. 
I might almost say that the verse in the Bible, occurring 
repeatedly : ' Thou shalt not serve strange gods,wood and 
stone' (Deut. xxviii. 36, 64), contains an allusion to 
those who worship the wood, and those who worship 
the stone. 6 We, through our sins, incline daily more 
towards them. It is true that they, like the people 
of Abimelech and Nineveh, believe in God, but they 
philosophize concerning God's ways. The leader of each 
of these parties maintained that he had found the divine 
light at its source, viz., in the Holy Land, and that there 
he ascended to heaven, and commanded that all the 
inhabitants of the globe should be guided in the right 
path. They turned their faces towards the land in 
prayer, but before long they changed and turned 
towards the place where the greatest number of their 
people lived. 7 This is as if a person wished to guide 
all men to the place of the sun, because they are blind 
and do not know its course. He, however, leads them 
to the south or north pole, and tells them : " the sun 

PART IV 217 

is there, if you turn towards it, you will see it." 
But they see nothing. The first leader, Moses, made 
the people stand by Mount Sinai, that they might see 
the light which he himself had seen, should they be 
able to see it in the same way. He, then, invited the 
Seventy Elders to see it, as it is written : ' They saw 
the God of Israel (Exod. xxiv. 10). Then he assembled 
the second convocation of Seventy Elders to whom he 
transferred so much of his prophetic spirit, that they 
equalled him, as is written : * And he took of the spirit 
that was upon him and gave it unto the seventy elders ' 
(Num. xi. 25). One related to the other concerning 
what they saw and heard. By these means all evil sus- 
picion was removed from the people, lest they opined 
that prophecy was only the privilege of the few 
who claimed to possess it. For no common compact 
is possible among so many people, especially where 
large hosts of them are concerned, and equally well-in- 
formed as Elisha, who knew the day on which God 
would remove Elijah, as it is written : ' Knowest thou, 
that the Lord will take away thy master . . . to-day ? ' 
(2 Kings ii. 5) Each elder served as a witness for 
Moses, and admonished the people to keep the law. 

12. Al Khazari : But the followers of other religions 
approach you more nearly than the philosophers ? 

13. The Kabbi : They are as far removed from us as the 
followers of a religion from a philosopher. The former 
seek God not only for the sake of knowing Him, but also 
for other great benefits which they derive therefrom. 
The philosopher, however, only seeks Him that he may 
be able to describe Him accurately in detail, as he would 
describe the earth, explaining that it is in the centre of 
the great sphere, but not in that of the zodiac, etc. Ig- 


norance of God would be no more injurious than would 
ignorance concerning the earth be injurious to those 
who consider it flat. The real benefit is to be found 
only in the cognizance of the true nature of things, in 
order to resemble the Active Intellect. Be he believer 
or free-thinker, it does not concern him, if he is a 
philosopher. His axiom is that : ' God will do no good, 
neither will He do evil ' (Zeph. i. 12). If he believes 
in the eternity of matter, he cannot assume that there 
was a time when it did not exist prior to its creation. 
He opines that it was never non -existing, that it will 
never cease to exist, that God can only be called its 
creator in a metaphorical sense. 8 The term ' Creator,' 
and ' Maker ' he explains as cause and prime mover of 
the world. Effect lasts as long as the cause does. If the 
latter is only potential, the former is potential ; if real, 
real. God is cause in reality; that which is caused by Him 
remains, therefore, so long in existence as He remains its 
cause. We cannot blame philosophers for missing the 
mark, since they only arrived at this knowledge by way of 
speculation, and the result could not have been different, 
The most sincere among them speak to the followers 
of a revealed religion in the words of Socrates : ' My 
friends, I will not negative your theology, I say, how- 
ever, that I cannot grasp it ; I only understand human 
wisdom.' 9 These [speculative] religions are as far 
removed now as they were formerly near. If this 
were not so, Jeroboam and his party would be nearer 
to us, although they worshipped idols, as they were 
Israelites, inasmuch as they practised circumcision, 
observed the Sabbath, and other regulations, with 
few exceptions, which administrative emergencies had 
forced them to neglect. They acknowledged the God 

PART IV 219 

of Israel who delivered them from Egypt, in the same 
way as did the worshippers of the golden calf in the 
desert. The former class is at best superior to the 
latter inasmuch as they prohibited images. Since, 
however, they altered the Kibla, and sought Divine 
Influence where it is not to be found, 10 altering at the 
same time the majority of ceremonial laws, they wan- 
dered far from the straight path. 

14. Al Khazari : A wide difference should be made 
between the party of Jeroboam and that of Ahab. 
Those who worship Baal are idolators in every respect. 
In reference to this Elijah said : ' If the Lord be God, 
follow Him ; but if Baal, follow him ' (1 Kings xviii. 21). 
For this reason the Sages are in a dilemma as to how Josa- 
phat could partake of Ahab's food. 11 They have no such 
doubts concerning Jeroboam. Elijah's protest had no 
reference to the worship of the calves, since he said : 
' I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of 
Israel ' (1 Kings xix. 10). The party of Jeroboam con- 
sidered itself belonging to the Lord, the God of Israel,' 
also all their actions, their prophets were the prophets 
of God, whilst the prophets of Ahab were Baal's 
prophets. God appointed Jehu to destroy the works 
of Ahab. He proceeded with much zeal and cunning, 
saying : { Ahab served Baal a little, Jehu will serve 
him much ' (2 Kings x. 18). He destroyed all vestiges 
of Baal, indeed, but did not touch the calves. The wor- 
shippers of the first calf, the party of Jeroboam, and 
the worshippers of the heights and the image of Micah 
had no other idea than that they were serving the God of 
Israel,though in the way they did it they were disobedient 
and deserved death. This is as if a man marries his sister 
either under compulsion or from lust, and yet observes 


the marriage regulations as commanded by God. Or 
if one would eat swine's flesh, but carefully observe the 
rules concerning slaughtering, blood and ritual. 

15. The Rabbi : Thou hast called attention to a 
debatable point, although there is no doubt about it for 
me. But we have wandered from our subject, viz. the 
attributes. To return to it, let me explain the matter to 
thee by a simile taken from the sun. The sun is only a 
single body, whilst those receiving their light from it 
are in many ways dependent on each other. The most 
fitted to annex its lustre are the ruby, crystal, pure 
air and water, and their light is therefore called trans- 
parent. On glittering stones and polished surfaces it is 
called luminous ; on wood, earth, etc., visible light, and 
on all other things it is simply designated light without 
any specific qualification. This general term, light, 
corresponds to what we call Elohim, as is now clear. 
Transparent light corresponds to ' Eternal,' a proper 
name which describes especially the relation between 
Him and His earthly creatures, I mean, the prophets, 
whose souls are refined and susceptible to His light, 
which penetrates them, just as the sunlight penetrates 
the crystal and ruby. Their souls take their origin and 
development (as has been explained before) from 
Adam. Essence and heart [of Adam] reappear in 
every generation and age, whilst the large mass of 
mankind are set aside as husks, leaves, mud, etc. The 
God of this essence is only and solely Adonai, and 
because He established a connexion with man, the name 
Elohim was altered after the creation into Adonai 
Elohim. This the Sages express in the words : A ' full 
name over a full universe ' (Ber. Kabbah chap. xi. ). The 
world was but completed with the creation of man who 

PART IV 221 

forms the heart of all that was created before him. 
No intelligent person will misunderstand the meaning 
conveyed by ' Elohim,' although this is possible with 
regard to ' Adonai,' because prophecy is strange and 
rare in single individuals, and much more so in a multi- 
tude. For this reason, Pharaoh disbelieved and said : 
' I know not the Lord ' (Exod. v. 2), as if he interpreted 
the Tetragrammaton in the way penetrating light is 
understood, and was reminded by it of God whose light 
is intimately attached to man. Moses supplemented 
his words by adding : ' the God of the Hebrews,' in 
order to call to mind the patriarchs who testified by 
means of prophecy and marvels. Elohim was a name 
well known in Egypt, The first Pharaoh said to Joseph : 
' Forasmuch as Elohim has shewn thee all this,' (Gen. 
xli. 39), and i A man in whom the spirit of Elohim is ' 
(ver. 38). This is as if one man alone sees the sun, knows 
the points of its rising and course, whilst we others 
never behold it and live in shadow and mist. We find, 
then, that his house has much more light than ours, 
because he is acquainted with the course of the sun and 
can arrange his windows according to his desire. We 
also see his crops and plantations thriving, which, as 
he says, is the consequence of his knowing the course of 
the sun. We however, would deny this, and ask : ' What 
is the sun ? We know the light and its manifold 
advantages, but it comes to us merely by accident.' 
4 To me,' he would answer, ' it comes as much and as 
frequently as I desire,because I know its cause and course. 
If I am prepared for it and arrange all my plans and 
works for their proper seasons, I reap the full benefit 
of it. A substitute for Adonai is Presence, as in the 
verse : ' My Presence shall go with thee ' (Exod. xxxiii. 


14, sq.) } or ' If thy Presence go not with me.' The same 
is meant in the verse : ' Let my Lord, I pray Thee, go 
among us ' (ibid, xxxiv. 9). The meaning of Elohim can 
be grasped by way of speculation, because a Guide and 
Manager of the world is a postulate of Keason. Opinions 
differ on the basis of different speculations, but that of 
the philosophers is the best on the subject. The 
meaning of Adondi, however, cannot be grasped by 
speculation, but only by that intuition and prophetic 
vision which separates man, so to speak, from his kind, 
and brings him in contact with angelic beings, imbuing 
him with a new spirit, as it is written : ' Thou shalt be 
turned into another man,' ' God gave him another 
heart ' (1 Sam. x. 6. 9), 'A spirit came over Amasai ' 
(1 Chron. xii. 18). ' The hand of the Lord was upon me ' 
(Ezek. xxxvii. 11). ' Uphold me with Thy free spirit ' 
(Ps. li. 14) All these circumscribe the Holy Spirit 
which enwraps the prophet in the hour of his ministry, 
the Nazirite, and the Messiah, when they are anointed 
for priesthood, or for the royal dignity by a prophet ; 
or when God aids and strengthens him in any matter ; 
or when the priest makes prophetic utterances by 
means of the mystic power derived from the use of the 
Urim and Tummim. Then all previous doubts con- 
cerning Elohim are removed, and man deprecates those 
speculations by means of which he had endeavoured to 
derive the knowledge of God's dominion and unity. 
It is thus that man becomes a servant, loving the object 
of his worship, and ready to perish for His sake, because 
he finds the sweetness of this attachment as great as the 
distress in the absence thereof. This forms a contrast 
to the philosophers, who see in the worship of God 
nothing but extreme refinement, extolling Him in 

PART IV 223 

truth above all other beings, (just as the sun is placed on 
a higher level than the other visible things), and that 
the denial of God's existence is the mark of a low 
standard of the soul which delights in untruth. 

16. Al Khazari : Now I understand the difference 
between Elohim and Adondi, and I see how far the God 
of Abraham is different from that of Aristotle. Man 
yearns for Adondi as a matter of love, taste, and con- 
viction ; whilst attachment to Elohim is the result of 
speculation. A feeling of the former kind invites its 
votaries to give their life for His sake, and to prefer death 
to His absence. Speculation, however, makes venera- 
tion only a necessity as long as it entails no harm, but 
bears no pain for its sake. I would, therefore, excuse 
Aristotle for thinking lightly about the observation of 
the law, since he doubts whether God has any cognizance 
of it. 

17. The Rabbi : Abraham bore his burden honestly, 
viz. the life in Ur Kasdim, emigration, circumcision, the 
removal of Ishmael, and the distress of the sacrifice of 
Isaac, because his share of the Divine Influence had 
come to him through love, but not through speculation. 
He observed that not the smallest detail could escape 
God, that he was quickly rewarded for his piety and 
guided on the right path to such an extent that he did 
everything in the order dictated by God. How could 
he do otherwise than deprecate his former speculation ? 12 
The Sages explain the verse : ' And He brought him 
forth abroad, ' as meaning : ' give up thy horoscopy ! ' 13 
That is to say, He commanded him to leave off his specu- 
lative researches into the stars and other matters, and 
to follow faithfully the object of his inclination, as it^is 
written : ' Taste and see that the Lord is good ' (Ps. 


xxxiv. 9). Adondi is, therefore, called rightly the God of 
Israel, because this view is not found among Gentiles. 
He is also called God of the land, because this possesses a 
special power in its air, soil and climate, which in con- 
nexion with the tilling of the ground, assists in improv- 
ing the species. He who follows the divine law, follows 
the representatives of this view. His soul finds satis- 
faction in their teachings, in spite of the simplicity of 
their speech and ruggedness of their similes. This is 
not the case with the instructions of philosophers, with 
their eloquence and fine teachings, however great the 
impressiveness of their arguments. The masses do not 
follow them, because the human soul has a presenti- 
ment of the truth, as it is said : ' The words of truth will 
be recognised.' 

18. Al Khazari : I see thee turning against the philo- 
sophers, attributing to them things of which just the 
opposite is known. Of a person who lives in se- 
clusion and acts rightly, it is said, he is a philosopher, 
and shares the views of philosophers. Thou deprivest 
them of every good action. 

19. The Rabbi : Nay, what I told thee is the founda- 
tion of their belief, viz. that the highest human happi- 
ness consists in speculative science and in the conception 
by reason and thought of all intelligible matters. This 
is transformed into the active intellect, then, into eman- 
ating intellect, which is near the creative intellect without 
fear of decay. 14 This cannot, however, be obtained ex- 
cept by devoting one's life to research and continual re- 
flection, which is incompatible with worldly occupations. 
For this reason they renounced wealth, rank, and the 
pleasure of children, in order not to be distracted from 
study. As soon as man has become acquainted with 

PART IV 225 

the final object of the knowledge sought for, he need not 
care what he does. They do not fear God for the sake 
of reward, nor do they think that if they steal or murder 
they will be punished. They recommend good and dis- 
suade from evil in the most admirable manner. And 
in order to resemble the Creator who arranged everything 
so perfectly, they have contrived laws, or rather regu- 
lations without binding force, and which may be over- 
ridden in times of need. The religious law, however, 
is not so except in its social parts, and the law itself sets 
down those which permit exceptions and those which 
do not. 15 

20. Al Khazari : The light of which thou speakest 
has not gone out without hope of its being re -kindled. 
It has completely disappeared, and no one is able to 
trace it. 

21. The Rabbi : It is only extinguished for him who 
does not see us with an open eye, who infers the extinc- 
tion of our light from our degradation, poverty and 
dispersion, and concludes from the greatness of others, 
their conquests on earth and their power over us, that 
their light is still burning. 

22. Al Khazari : I will not use this as an argument, 
as I see two antagonistic religions prevailing, although 
it is impossible that the truth should be on two opposite 
sides. It can only be on one or on neither. I have ex- 
plained to thee in connexion with the verse : ' Behold 
My servant shall prosper ' (Is. Hi. 13), that humility 
and meekness are evidently nearer to the Divine Influ- 
ence than glory and eminence. The same is visible in 
these two religions. Christians do not glory in kings, 
heroes and rich people, but in those who followed Jesus 
all the time, before His faith had taken firm root 



among them. They wandered away, or hid themselves, 
or were killed wherever one of them was found, suffered 
disgrace and slaughter for the sake of their belief. These 
are the people in whom they glory, whose ministers they 
revere, and in whose names they build churches. In 
the same way did the ' Helpers,' 16 and friends of Islam 
bear much poverty, until they found assistance. In 
these, their humility and martyrdom do they glory ; 
not in the princes who boasted of their wealth and power, 
but rather in those clad in rags and fed scantily on barley 
bread. Yet, Jewish Rabbi, they did so in the utmost 
equanimity and devotion to God. Had I ever seen the 
Jews act in a like manner for the sake of God, I would 
place them above the kings of David's house. For I am 
well aware of what thou didst teach me concerning the 
words : ' with him also that is of a contrite and humble 
spirit ' (Is. Ivii. 15), as well as that the light of God 
only rests upon the souls of the humble. 

23. The Rabbi : Thou art right to blame us for bear- 
ing degradation without benefit. But if I think of 
prominent men amongst us who could escape this de- 
gradation by a word spoken lightly, become free men, 
and turn against their oppressors, but do not do so out of 
devotion to their faith : 17 is not this the way to obtain 
intercession and remission of many sins ? Should that 
which thou demandest of me really ever take place 
we should not remain in this condition. Besides this, 
God has a secret and wise design concerning us, which 
should be compared to the wisdom hidden in the seed 
which falls into the ground, where it undergoes an ex- 
ternal transformation into earth, water and dirt, without 
leaving a trace for him who looks down upon it. It is, 
however, the seed itself which transforms earth and 

PART rv 227 

water into its own substance, carries it from one stage to 
another, until it refines the elements and transfers them 
into something like itself, casting off husks, leaves, etc., 
and allowing the pure core to appear, capable of bearing 
the Divine Influence. The original seed produced the 
tree bearing fruit resembling that from which it had been 
produced. In the same manner the law of Moses trans- 
forms each one who honestly follows it, though it may 
externally repel him. The nations merely serve to in- 
troduce and pave the way for the expected Messiah, who 
is the fruition, and they will all become His fruit. Then, 
if they acknowledge Him, they will become one tree. 
Then they will revere the origin which they formerly 
dispersed, as we have observed concerning the words : 
" Behold My servant prospers." Consider not their 
abstention from idolatry, and energetic declaration of the 
unity of God, as a reason to praise ; nor cast a reproving 
glance at the Israelites because their history tells of idol 
worship. On the other hand consider that many of the 
former incline towards heresy and endeavour to spread 
it, that they praise it in popular songs which are in 
everybody's mouth, and which are loud in asserting that 
there is no king who rules over the actions of man, 
none who rewards or punishes them, 18 a doctrine never 
mentioned in connexion with Israel. The people only 
sought to derive advantages from talismans and spirits, 
in addition to the practice of their faith of which they 
observed the laws, because the adoption of magic prac- 
tices was universally prevalent at their time. Had this 
not been so, they should not have become converted 
to the belief of the peoples amongst whom they lived as 
exiles. Even Manasseh'and Zedeldah and the greatest 
apostates in Israel had no particular wish to forsake the 


religion of Israel. They did it chiefly for victory and 
worldly gain which they hoped to obtain by means which 
they considered effective in spite of divine prohibition. 
If these things were so lightly considered to-day, thou 
wouldst see us and them deceived by them, as we are 
deceived by other vanities, such as astrology, conjuring, 
magic practices, and other tricks which are rejected as 
completely by nature as by the Law. 

24. Al Khazari : I ask thee now to give me an ex- 
planation of the relics of the natural science which thou 
hast stated existed among you. 

25. The Rabbi : To this belongs the ' Book of Crea- 
tion ' by the Patriarch Abraham. 19 Its contents are 
very profound, and require thorough explanation. It 
teaches the unity and omnipotence of God by means of 
various examples, which are multiform on one side and 
uniform on the other. They are in harmony with regard 
to the One, their Director. This results in the three 
factors : S'fdr, Sefer, and Sippur ( Jesirah i. 1 ). As to S'fdr 
it means the calculation and weighing of the created 
bodies. The calculation which is required for the har- 
monious and advantageous arrangement of a body is 
based on a numerical figure. Expansion, measure, 
weight, relation of movements, and musical harmony, 
all these are based on the number expressed by the word 
S'fdr. No building emerges from the hand of the archi- 
tect unless its image had first existed in his soul. Sippur 
signifies the language, or rather the divine language, ' the 
voice of the words of the living God.' This produced 
the existence of the form which this language assumed 
in the words : ' Let there be light,' * let there be a 
firmament.' The word was hardly spoken, when the 
thing came into existence. This is also Sefer, by which 

PART IV 229 

writing is meant, the writing of God means His creatures, 
the speech of God is His writing, the will of God is His 
speech. In the nature of God, therefore, /S'/ar, Sippur, 
and Sefer are a unity, whilst they are three in human 
reckoning. For man wills with his reason, speaks with 
his mouth, and writes such speech with his hand. These 
three factors characterize one of God's creatures. Man's 
will, writing, and word are marks of the thing, but not 
the nature of the same. The will, however, expressed 
in the word of God signifies the essence of the thing, and 
is at the same time His script. Imagine a silk weaver 
considering his work The silk obeys him, accepts the 
colours and patterns which he has contrived. The gar- 
ment therefore comes into existence by his will and 
design. If we were able when speaking of, or drawing a 
human figure, to produce a human form, then we should 
have the word of God in our power and could create, just 
as we are able to do partially in forming objects in the 
mind. Spoken or written words have certain advantages 
over each other. In some cases the name fits the object 
exactly ; in others less so. The language created by 
God, which He taught Adam and placed on his tongue 
and in his heart, is without any doubt the most perfect 
and most fitted to express the things specified, as it is 
written : ' And whatsoever Adam called every living 
creature, that was the name thereof ' (Gen. ii. 19). This 
means that it deserved such name which fitted and 
characterized it. This shows the excellence of the ' holy 
tongue ' as well as the reason why the angels employed 
it in preference to any other. Writing is judged from a 
similar point of view. The shapes of the letters are not 
the result of accident, but of a device which is in har- 
mony with the character of each letter. Thou shouldst 


not, now, deem it impossible that names and combina- 
tions of letters, whether spoken or written, have certain 
effects. In either case, calculation, viz. the thought of 
the pure, angelic soul precedes the act. Thus the three 
factors : S'fdr, Sippur, and Sefer become a unity, and 
the calculation appears as if a being, endowed with a 
pure soul, had made, spoken, and written it. The book 
further states with regard to God : He created His world 
with three Seflrdh factors : S'fdr, Sippur, and Sefer. In 
God's nature they are all one, but this one forms the 
beginning of the ' thirty -two miraculous and mysterious 
ways of the divine wisdom,' composed of the ten Sefi- 
roth and the twenty-two letters [of the Hebrew alpha- 
bet]. This points to the actuality of existing things and 
their differences with regard to quantity and quality. 
Quantity means a number. The mystery of the num- 
ber is in the number ten, as is expressed in the passage : 
' Ten Sefiroth without anything else ; ten and not nine, 
ten and not eleven ' (ibid. i. 4-5). A deep secret lies in 
the fact that the counting stops at ten, neither more nor 
less. The next sentence, therefore, runs : ' Understand 
judiciously and judge intelligently, examine and search 
them, mind, weigh, and consider, render everything 
lucid, and place the Creator in His sphere ; their mea- 
sure is ten in endless progression ' (ibid. 4-5). This is 
followed by a division as to quality. The twenty -two 
letters are divided into three groups, viz. three mothers, 
seven double, twelve single [consonants]. The three 
mothers are alef, mem, shin. They cover a great and 
profound secret ; for from them emanate air, water, 
and fire by means of which the universe was created. 
The grouping of these consonants united with the order 
of the macrocosm and the microcosm, viz. man, and the 

PART IV 231 

order of time into one line, called ' true witnesses,' viz. 
universe, soul, year. This also demonstrates that the 
one order is the work of a one -Master, who is God. And 
although things are multifarious and different from each 
other, their difference is the result of the difference of 
their material, which is partly of higher and partly lower 
order, and of impure or pure character. The giver of 
forms, designs and order, however, 'has placed in them 
all a unique wisdom, and a providence which is in com- 
plete harmony with this uniform order, and is visible in 
the macrocosm, in man, and in the arrangement of the 
spheres. It is this that is called the ' true witnesses ' of 
His Oneness, viz. universe, soul, year. This yields 
approximately the following table 


In the Universe : Air, Water, Fire. 
In the Soul : Chest, Belly, Head. 
In the Year : Moisture, Cold, Heat. 

Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaf, Pe, Resh, Tav. 
In the Universe : Saturnus, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, 

Moon. 20 
In the Soul : Wisdom, Wealth, Government, Life, Grace, 

Progeny, Peace. 
In the Year : Sabbath, Thursday, Tuesday, Sunday, Friday, 

Wednesday, Monday. 

In the Universe : Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo. 
In the Soul : Organs of Sight, Hearing, Smelling, Speaking, 

Tasting, Feeling. 
In the Year : Nisan, lyyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Ab, Ellul. 

In the Universe : Libra, Scorpio, Arcitenens, Caper, Amphora, 

In the Soul : Organs of Working, Walking, Thinking, Being 

Angry, of Laughing, and Sleeping. 
In the Year : Tishri, Marheshwan, Kislev, Tebeth, Shebat 



' One upon three, three upon seven, and seven upon 
twelve ' (ibid. vi. 3). All these organs have one spot in 
common, e.g. counselling kidneys, laughing spleen 
[angry liver], sleeping stomach. It cannot be denied 
that the kidneys have the faculty of giving good advice, 
as we know a similar circumstance to be connected with 
other organs. A eunuch is of weaker intelligence than a 
woman ; both lack the beard and sound judgment. 
The spleen is called ' laughing ' because it is its nature 
to cleanse both blood and spirit from unclean and ob- 
scuring matter. If they are pure, cheerfulness and 
laughing arise. The ' angry liver ' is so termed on 
account of the gall which takes its origin from it. 
' Stomach ' is the name for the digestive organs. The 
heart is not mentioned because it is the principal organ, 
neither are the diaphragm and the lung, because they 
serve the heart especially, but the rest of the body 
only incidentally, and were not originally so intended. 
The brain's task is to collect the different senses con- 
nected with it. The organs which are situated below 
the diaphragm have another secret, because they re- 
present primary nature. The diaphragm separates the 
physical world from the animal one, just as the neck 
separates the animal world from the rational one, as 
Plato points out in the Timaeus. 21 Primary matter 
originates in the physical world, and here is to be 
found the origin of existence. From here the seed 
is sent forth and the embryo produced out of the four 
elements. Here also God selected the parts which are 
used as offerings, viz. fat, blood, the caul above the 
liver, and the two kidneys. He selected neither the 
heart, nor the brain, nor the lung, nor the diaphragm. 
This is a most profound secret, the lifting of which is 

PART IV 233 

prohibited. It is therefore taught : ' One should not 
examine the work of creation ' 22 except under 
rare circumstances. The book says further : c Seven 
double [consonants], six plains for the six sides, and the 
holy Temple placed in the middle. Blessed be He from 
His place ; He is the Place of the universe, but the uni- 
verse is not His place ' (ibid. iv. 2). This is an allusion to 
the Divine Influence which unites the contrasts. The 
book compares Him to the central point of a body, with 
six sides and three dimensions. As long as the centre 
is not fixed, the sides cannot be fixed. Attention is 
further called to the relation between these and the 
power which bears the universe, and through which 
contrasts are united by eliciting comparisons between 
Universe, Soul, and Year. To each of these a some- 
thing is given which comprehends and arranges its com- 
ponent parts. c The dragon in the universe is as a king 
on his throne ; the sphere in the year is as a king in the 
country ; the heart in the soul is as a king in war ' (ibid, 
vi. 2). 'Dragon' 23 is the name of the moon sphere, 
and is employed as an appellation for the world of reason, 
because things hidden and imperceptible by the senses 
are called dragon. The ' sphere ' relates to the ecliptic 
of the sun sphere, because it regulates the seasons of the 
year. The ' heart ' regulates the animal life, and directs 
its divisions. The meaning of the whole is that the 
wisdom visible in all three is one, and the Divine In- 
fluence is one, whilst the difference existing between 
them is based on the difference of matter. The authority 
ruling the spiritual world is compared to a king on his 
throne, whose commands, or even smallest hints, are 
obeyed by his servants, high and low, who know him, 
without any movement on his part or on theirs. When 


directing the spheres he is compared to the king in the 
country. For he must show himself at the borders in 
order that all parts should see him as a redoubtable and 
benevolent ruler. When controlling the animal world, 
he is compared to c a king in war,' who is swayed by 
contradictory feelings ; he wishes success to his friends 
and defeat to his enemies. Wisdom, however, is one 
only. But the wisdom displayed in the spheres is not 
greater than in the smallest animals. The former, it is 
true, is of a higher class, because it consists of pure and 
lasting matter which cannot be destroyed except by its 
Creator, whilst animals are made from a matter which is 
susceptible to contradictory influences, such as heat, 
cold, and others which affect its nature. Time would 
have destroyed them, had not Providence instituted the 
masculine and feminine principles in order to preserve 
the species, in spite of the decay of the individual. This 
is a consequence of the revolution of the sphere as well 
as of the rising and setting [of the heavenly bodies]. The 
book calls attention to this circumstance, and says that 
there is no physical difference between woman and man 
except certain external and internal organs. Anatomy 
teaches that the female genitals are but the inverted 
male ones. The book expresses this thus : ' Man is 
alef, mem, shin ; woman is alef, shin, mem ; (ibid. iii. 5) 
the wheel turns forwards and backwards ; nothing 
better above than pleasure, nothing worse below than 
injury.' 23a This means that the letter groups alef, 
mem, shin, and alef, shin, mem-, 'aynh,nun, gimel, and nun, 
gimel, *ayn (ibid. ii. 2) are always the same, only dif- 
ferently grouped, just as the rising and setting of the 
sphere remain stationary, only appearing to us to move 
forwards and backwards. Then the book allegorises the 

PART IV 235 

human organs in the following manner : c Two mumbling, 
two rejoicing, two counselling, two jubilant. He put 
them in contrast, placed them in opposition, one part 
of one side being allied to one of the other, standing up 
for each other, or against one another ; some are nothing 
without others, but all are linked to each other ' (ibid, 
v. 2). The allusion is clear when considered in its 
entirety, however difficult it may be to explain it in 
detail, to explain that the animal needs contrasts, that 
its preservation is the result of this strife, and that it 
could not exist without the latter. Counting up the 
creatures which are headed by the noblest, viz. ' spirit 
of the living God,' the book goes on to say : ' Firstly, 
the spirit of the living God ; secondly, air emanating 
from the spirit ; thirdly, water from the wind ; fourthly, 
fire from water' (ibid. i. 9, 10). The earth element is 
not mentioned, because it forms the gross material of 
the creatures which are all made of earth. One says 
rather : ' This is a fiery body, or an atmospheric one, 
or an aquaeous one.' For this reason the three mothers, 
fire, water, and air, are placed in front, but they are pre- 
ceded by the spirit of God, which is the Holy Ghost, of 
which were created the angels and with which the soul 
is connected. After this comes the perceptible atmo- 
sphere, then the water which is above the firmament, 
and neither grasped nor acknowledged by philosophic 
speculation. A solution might be found in the circum- 
stance that this is the zone of intense cold which forms 
the limit of the clouds. Above this is the ether, which 
is the place of the elementary fire, as the book hath it : 
' Fire from water,' or as the Bible says : ' And the spirit 
of God moved upon the face of the water ' (Gen. i. 2). 
This water is the primary matter, not qualified, but 


tdhu wabohu, which, by the encompassing will of God, 
assumed a certain character and the name ' Spirit of 
God.' The comparison of the primary matter with 
water is most suitable, because no compact substance 
can arise from a material which is finer than water. 
But a substance which is of greater density than water 
does not, on account of this density, admit the influ- 
ences of nature. Earthly matter alone can be wrought, 
because in handling it only the surfaces of the mate- 
rial are concerned, but not all its particles. Nature 
however, penetrates the atoms. There is consequently 
no product of nature which did not, at one time, exist in 
a liquid condition. If this had not been so, it could not 
have been called a natural, but only an artificial com- 
pound, or accidental formation. Nature can only ex- 
ercise her influence on liquid matters, which she can 
form at her will, but leave alone as soon as it is 
necessary for them to become hard. Concerning this 
the book says : ' He made substance from chaos, and 
the non-existent existing. He carved great pillars from 
intangible air.' Further : ' Water from air ; he has 
carved and hewn tdhu and 6oM, mud and clay ; he 
made them into a kind of flower bed, raised them like a 
wall, covered them like a floor, poured water over them, 
and they became dust' (ibid. i. 9 sq. ; ii. 4). Tdhu is the 
green line which surrounds the whole universe. 24 Bohu 
are the mud -covered stones which are submerged in the 
ocean, and from between which water comes forth.' In 
the following portions light is shed on the secret of the 
holy name, viz. the Tetragrammaton, which corresponds 
to the nature of the One God, which is without quiddity. 
For the quiddity of a thing is outside its essence, whilst 
the existence of God is identical with His quiddity. The 

PART IV 237 

quiddity of a thing is its definition, and the latter is 
composed of the species and divisibility of the thing 
defined. The primary cause, however, has neither 
species nor divisibility. He therefore can be nothing 
but He. The book, then, shows that the revolution of 
the sphere is the cause of the variety of things, in the 
following words : ' The wheel turns forward and back- 
ward ' (ibid. ii. 4). This is compared to the combina- 
tion of single letters, viz. alef placed in combination 
with all the others, all the others with alef ; beth with all 
the others, all the others with beth (ibid. 5). This 
continued through the whole alphabet results in two 
hundred and thirty-one combinations. 25 The variety 
would be greater in groups of three and four letters 
[which is expressed in the following formula] : ' Three 
stones build six houses, four stones build four-and- 
twenty houses 26 ; go and calculate that which the 
human mouth cannot express nor the ear hear.' An in- 
quiry is also necessary into how things multiplied prior to 
the revolution of the sphere, the Creator being One, whilst 
the sphere, so to speak, has six sides. The book, then, 
in spiritual language, finds a name for the Creator, 
choosing, in order to express it in physical speech, the 
slenderest consonants which are as a breath in compari- 
son to the other letters, viz. he, wdw, yod. The book 
says that the divine will, when going forth under this 
great name, carries out everything God wishes. There 
is no doubt that He and the angels speak that spiritual 
language, and knew, even before the world was created, 
everything that was to happen in the physical world, 
as well as how speech and intelligence would emanate 
from Him on mankind, which was to be created in the 
world. From this it follows that the physical world 


was created in a manner congruous to the tangible 
element of the holy and spiritual name, which, in its 
turn, is congruous to the tangible name, JHW, JWH, 
HWJ, HJW, WJH, WHJ. Each of these groups 
was responsible for one direction of the universe, and 
thus arose the sphere. This, however, is not satis- 
factory, because the object of research is either too pro- 
found to be fathomed, or our minds are inadequate, or 
for both reasons simultaneously. Philosophers specu- 
lating on these things arrive at the conclusion that 
from one only one can issue. They conjectured an 
angel, standing near to God, and having emanated from 
the Prime Cause. To this angel they attributed two 
characteristics ; firstly, his consciousness of his own 
existence by his very essence ; secondly, his conscious- 
ness of having a cause. Two things resulted from this, 
viz. an angel and the sphere of fixed stars. From his 
recognition of the Prime Cause a second angel ema- 
nated, and from his consciousness of his existence ema- 
nated the sphere of Saturnus, and so forth to the moon, 
and the Creative Intellect. 26a People accepted this 
theory, and were deceived by it to such an extent, that 
they looked upon it as conclusive, because it was attri- 
buted to Greek philosophers. It is, however, a mere 
assertion without convincing power, and open to various 
objections. Firstly, for what reason did this emanation 
cease ; did the Prime Cause become impotent ? Secondly, 
it might be asked : Why, from Saturnus' recognition of 
what was above, did not one thing arise, and from his 
recognition of the first angel another thing, so that the 
Saturnine emanations counted four ? Whence do we 
know altogether that if a being became conscious of its 
essence a sphere must arise, and from the recognition of 

PART IV 239 

the Prime [Cause], an angel must arise ? When Aristotle 
asserts that he was conscious of his existence, one may 
consistently expect that a sphere should emanate from 
him, and when he asserts that he recognised the Prime 
Cause, an angel should emanate. I communicated these 
rudiments to thee lest philosophers confuse thee and 
thou think that by following it thou might satisfy thy 
soul with a clear demonstration. These rudiments are 
as unacceptable to reason as they are extravagant in the 
face of logic. Neither do two philosophers agree on 
this point, unless they be disciples of the same teacher. 
But Empedocles, Pythagoras. Aristotle, Plato, and many 
others entirely disagree with each other. 

26. Al Khazari : Why should the letters H W J or an 
angel or a sphere or other things be required if we 
believe in the Divine will and creation, and if we believe 
that God created the immense variety of things and 
species in one moment, as is related in the Book of 
Genesis that He placed in everything the faculty of 
preservation and propagation, and sustains them every 
moment by His divine power ? Do we not say : ' His 
bounty renews every day for ever, the work of 
creation ? ' 27 

27. The Rabbi : Just so, King of the Khazars, by 
God ! This is the truth, the real faith, and everything 
else may be abandoned. Perhaps this was Abraham's 
point of view when divine power and unity dawned 
upon him prior to the revelation accorded to him. As 
soon as this took place, he gave up all his speculations 
and only strove to gain favour of God, having ascertained 
what this was and how and where it could be obtained. 
The Sages explain the words : 'And he brought him forth 
abroad' (Gen.xv.), thus : Give up thy horoscopy ! 28 This 


means : Forsake astrology as well as any other doubtful 
study of nature. Plato relates that a prophet, who 
li ved at the time of the king Morinus, 29 said prophetically 
to a philosopher who was zealously devoted to his art : 
Thou canst not reach me on this road, but only those 
whom I have placed as intermediaries between me and 
mankind, viz. the prophets and the true law. The 
Book Jesirah is constructed on the mystery of ten units 
equally acknowledged in east and west, but neither from 
natural causes, nor rational conviction. The following 
sentences are a Divine mystery : ' Ten Sefiroth without 
anything else ; close thy mouth from speaking, close thy 
heart from thinking. If thy heart runs away, return to 
God ' 30 (Jez. i. 8) ; for with reference to this [the pro- 
phet] says : ' Kunning and returning ' (Ezek. i. 15). On 
this basis the covenant was made. Their measure 
is ten in endless progression, (ibid. i. 7) the end 
being linked to the beginning, and the beginning 
to the end just as a flame which is attached to the coal. 
Know thou, think and reflect that the Creator is one, 
without another, and there is no number which thou 
canst count before * one.' (vi. 4). The book concludes 
as follows : As soon as Abraham had understood, 
meditated, discerned and clearly grasped, the Lord 
of the universe revealed Himself to him, called him His 
friend and made a covenant with him between the 
ten fingers of his hand, which is the covenant of the 
tongue ; and between the ten toes of his feet, which is 
the covenant of circumcision, and He pronounced upon 
him the word : ' Before I formed thee in the belly I knew 
thee ' (Jer. i. 5). "'*& 

28. Al Khazari : Give me now an idea of the Sages' 
accomplishments in natural science. 

PART IV 241 

29. The Rabbi : I have already 31 called thy attention 
to the fact that they were so skilled in real astronomical 
observations that they knew the revolution of the 
moon which, according to Davidian tradition, amounts 
to twenty-nine days, twelve hours and seven hundred 
and ninety-three fractions. 32 No flaw has been found 
in it hitherto. They also calculated the solar year, 
taking care that Passover should not fall till after the 
Tekufah 33 of Nisan, as some of them explained : ' If 
you see that the equinox of Nisan would be on the six- 
teenth of Nisan, make the year an embolismic one,' 34 
lest Passover fell in the winter season. God's com- 
mand fixed the feast in the words : ' Observe the month 
of Abib.' (Deut. xvi. 1). The Tekufah, as accepted by the 
people, is not the true one, but only approximate, on 
account of the division of the year into four seasons, 
viz. ninety-one days, seven and a half hours. Accord- 
ing to this calculation Passover would fall in the winter. 
This induced the Christians to attack the Jews and to 
think that the latter had lost the basis of their belief. 
They themselves are without a basis, since their Easter 
would, according to their calculation of the commonly 
known equinox, take place before the beginning of 
spring. They did not, however, pay attention to the 
true equinox, which was kept secret and not given up to 
common knowledge. According to their calculation 
Passover never falls otherwise than when the sun has 
reached the head of Aries, though only by one day. 
For the last thousand years no mistake has occurred, 
and this agrees with the calculation of Al Battani, 33 
being most correct and accurate. Can the revolutions 
of sun and moon be calculated otherwise than by a most 
intimate knowledge of astronomy ? The problem of the 



sentence : c If the new moon appears before noon, etc. . .' 
has been discussed before. 36 There exists a book on this 
special subject, styled 'Chapters of R. Eliezer,' 37 in which 
we find dissertations on the extent of the globe and every 
sphere, the nature of the stars, the signs of the zodiac, 
constellations, houses, happy omens, good and evil in- 
fluences, ascensions and descensions, elevations and the 
extent of their movements. He was one of the best 
known doctors of the Mishnah. Samuel, one of the 
doctors of the Talmud said : ' The roads of heaven are as 
familiar to me as the streets of Nehardaea'. 38 They 
devoted themselves to this study only in the service 
of the Law, because the calculation of the revolution of 
the moon with the disturbances of her course did not 
completely tally with the calculation of the time of her 
conjunction with the sun, viz., the Moldd. 39 The time 
when the moon is not visible prior to the Molad and im- 
mediately after it also, can only be calculated with the 
help of sound astronomical knowledge. Similarly, the 
knowledge of the changes of the four seasons can only 
be properly obtained with the aid of a knowledge of the 
lowest and highest points and the various ascensions 
of stars as well as their variations. He who occupies 
himself with this study must bring to bear on it also the 
knowledge of spheres. The remarkable knowledge of 
natural history displayed in the sayings of the Sages, 
without any intention on their part of teaching this 
science, is quite astonishing. What books, in thy 
opinion, must have been at the disposal even of the 
students among them ? 

30. Al Khazari : I wonder how it is that the books 
written for the purpose were lost whilst these incidental 
sayings were saved, 

PART rv 243 

31. The Rabbi : Because their contents were re- 
tained in the minds of a few people, only one of whom 
was an astronomer, another a physician or an anatomist. 
If a nation perishes it is first the higher classes which 
disappear, and literature with them. There only remain 
the law books which the people require, know by heart, 
copy and preserve. Whatever element of those sciences 
was embodied in the Talmudical law codes was thus 
protected and preserved by the zeal of many students. 
To these belong everything appertaining to the rules 
for slaughtering cattle, or making them unlawful to 
be eaten. A large amount of this remained unknown 
to Galen. 40 If this were not so, why does he not mention 
easily recognisable diseases to which the Law calls 
attention. Among these are diseases of the lungs and 
heart, growths on the latter and on its sides, the growing 
together of the lobes of the lung, deficiency or redun- 
dance of the same, or if they are dried up or lacerated. 41 
Their acquaintance with the vital and vegetative organs 
is shown in the following sentence : The brain has two 
skins to which correspond two on the testicles. 42 Two 
bean-shaped growths are situated at the lower end of the 
skull ; inside them is the brain, outside is the spine. 43 
Further : There are three arteries ; one leads to the heart, 
the second to the lung, and the third to the liver. 43 
They distinguished between fatal diseases and less 
dangerous ones in the following words : If the skin of 
the spine is preserved, the marrow remains intact. 
He whose marrow becomes soft cannot beget children. 43 
Further : a skin formed in consequence of a wound on 
the lung is no real skin. 43a The regulation concerning 
the ' sinew that shrinks ' does not apply to birds, because 
they have no hollow of the hip. 44 Worth mentioning 


are the following regulations : The contents of the 
stomach of a lawful animal suckled by an unlawful 
one is unlawful, but the contents of the stomach of 
an unlawful animal suckled by a lawful one are 
lawful, because the milk becomes compact in the en- 
trails. 45 Very profound, though beyond our grasp, is 
the following prohibition : Five cuticles are unlawful, 
viz. that of the brain, testicles, spleen, kidneys and lower 
end of the spine, all these it is unlawful to eat. 46 They 
have also very skilfully determined the height from 
which a fall would make an animal unlawful on 
account of c shattering of limbs,' which means the tear- 
ing of limbs which endangers its life. They say as 
follows : ' If one has left an animal above [a structure], 
and finds it below, shattering of limbs is not to be feared, 
because the animal ' measures itself,' which means that 
the animal measures and prepares for the leap, without 
damage. This would not be the case if it were pushed. 
Leaping is assisted by presence of mind, whilst a push 
produces fear. 47 The following regulation is also in- 
teresting : The naturally reduced lung is lawful, the 
artificially reduced one is unlawful on account of c shrink- 
ing.' This can be examined by keeping it in tepid 
water for four and twenty hours. If it re -assumes a 
healthy appearance, it is lawful, but not otherwise. 48 
If the lung has the colour of antimony it is lawful, if it 
is like ink it is unlawful, because this blackness is a 
morbid transformation of red. 49 The yellow lung is 
lawful. If a lung is partially red, it is lawful, but un- 
lawful if it is completely red. A child of a yellowish 
tint was brought before R. Nathan of Babylon who 
decided : ' Wait until the blood has gone down.' He 
meant to say that the circumcision should not take 

PART IV 245 

place till the blood had spread through the whole body. 
This was done and the life of the child was saved, al- 
though other children of the same mother had died 
soon after the circumcision. Subsequently a child 
was brought before of a reddish hue, and he said : 
' Wait till the blood has been absorbed.' The child 
was saved in consequence and was called after him : 
Nathan Habbabli. 50 They further said : Lawful fat 
can close up an internal wound, but not unlawful 
fat. 51 A very acute decision is the following : If a 
needle is found in the thick wall of the stomach together 
with a drop of blood, [it must have entered before 
the animal was killed] if no blood is visible, it must have 
entered afterwards. The issue of this effects the validity 
of the sale, because after the killing no blood could 
approach the needle, as the blood does not flow in a 
dead animal. The buyer cannot, therefore, return 
the animal to the seller. If, however, blood is found, 
he can return it with the plea : ' Thou hast sold me an 
animal liable to die.' 52 A scab on a wound shows that 
the latter was three days old before the animal was 
killed, if no scab is to be seen the plaintiff must bring 
other evidence. The characteristics of a clean bird are 
the following : Place the bird on a stretched rope ; if it 
divides its claws two by two, it is an unclean bird, if it 
divides them three by one, it is a clean one. Further : 
Every bird that catches its food in the air is unclean, 
a bird that lives with notoriously unclean ones, as the 
starling among ravens, is of the same character. 53 A 
symptom of birth among small cattle is a flow of blood ; 
among big cattle after -birth ; in a woman : placenta and 
after-birth. 54 Very strange are the sayings concerning 
the poison contained in the claws of certain animals : a 


cat, a sparrow-hawk, and martin strike poison into kids 
and lambs ; the weasel wounds birds. The fox and 
the dog convey no poison. This poisoning is conveyed 
by the claw, but not by the teeth ; only by the forefoot, 
but not by the hindfoot ; only when the animal does it 
purposely, and is alive. All this means that an animal 
can only poison any other by striking it purposely, but 
not accidentally, or if the claw remains sticking in the 
flesh without any tearing intention. The addition 
' living animal ' is therefore most remarkable. 55 For 
it the striking foot were cut off and the claw remained 
in the flesh of the wound of the other animal, no poison- 
ing takes place, because the poison is not conveyed till 
the claw is withdrawn For this reason the words 
' while living ' are placed intentionally after ' on pur- 
pose.' They say further : If the liver is missing ex- 
cepting the size of an olive near the gall, its natural place, 
the animal is lawful. 56 Matter is harmless on the lung, 
but not on the kidneys. Clear water and a hole are 
harmless on the kidney but fatal for the lungs. 57 If an 
animal has been skinned, a piece as large as a coin re- 
maining on the spine suffices to make the animal lawful. 58 
The Mishnah also contains regulations concerning un- 
lawful food, defects of first-born animals, defects of 
priests, 59 too many to enumerate, not to speak of com- 
menting on them. Apart from this the anatomy of the 
skeleton is given in very concise, yet clear description. 60 
An admirable saying is : If the intestines protrude, 
but show no hole, the animal is lawful. This, however, 
the Mishnah adds, is only the case if they have not been 
inverted. If this has taken place, the animal is unlawful ; 
for it is written : 4 He has made thee and established 
thee ' (Deut. xxxii. 6), which means that God has 

PART IV 247 

created man as a well established being. If one of 
his organs were inverted, he could not live. The 
Sages further distinguish the various appearances of 
blood of issue or wounds and haemorrhoids, the rules 
of menstruation and male issue, symptoms of leprosy, 
and other matters too deep for our capacity. 
Finished is Part Four, and we begin 


1. AL KHAZARI : I must trouble thee to give me a 
clear and concise discourse on religious principles and 
axioms according to the method of the Mutakallims. 
Let me hear them exactly as thou didst study them, 
that I may accept or refute them. Since I have not 
been granted a perfect faith free from doubts, and I 
was formerly sceptical, had my own opinions, and 
exchanged ideas with philosophers and followers of 
other religions, I consider it most advantageous to 
learn and to instruct myself how to refute dangerous 
and foolish views. Tradition in itself is a good thing 
if it satisfies the soul, but a perturbed soul prefers 
research, especially if examination leads to the veri- 
fication of tradition. Then knowledge and tradition 
become united. 

2. The Rabbi : Where is the soul which is strong 
enough not to be deceived by the views of philosophers, 
scientists, astrologers, adepts, magicians, materialists, 
and others, and can adopt a belief without having first 
passed through many stages of heresy ? Life is short, 
but labour long. Only few there are to whom belief 
comes naturally, who avoid all these views, and whose 
soul always detects the points of error in them. I hope 
that thou art one of those few. Since I cannot resist, 
I will not lead thee the way of the Karaites, who as- 
cended the heights of metaphysics without inter - 


PART V 249 

mediate steps. I will give thee a clear standpoint, 
which will assist thee to acquire clear notions of matter 
and form, elements, nature, soul, intellect, and meta- 
physics in general. After this I will prove to thee, 
as briefly as possible, that the rational soul can exist 
without a body ; further, the existence of reward here- 
after, providence and omnipotence. As regards tan- 
gible objects, we can perceive their quantity and 
quality by means of our senses, whilst reason main- 
tains that they are borne by a fulcrum which is difficult 
to imagine. How can we imagine a thing that has 
neither quantity nor quality ? [Imagination denies its 
existence, but reason answers that quantity and quality] 1 
are accidents which have no independent existence, 
but must necessarily have an object to support them. 
Philosophers call this object matter, adding that our 
intelligence grasps its meaning only imperfectly, since 
imperfection is its nature ; that it does not really 
exist, and therefore cannot claim any predicate, and 
although it only exists virtually, its predicate is cor- 
poreal. Aristotle says that it is, so to speak, ashamed 
to appear naked, and therefore only shows itself clothed 
in a form. Some people believe that the ' water ' 
spoken of in the biblical account of the creation is an 
appellation for this matter, and that c the spirit of the 
Lord hovering over the surface of the water ' only 
expresses the divine will which penetrates all atoms 
of matter, with which He does what, how, and when 
He desires, as the potter with the shapeless clay. The 
absence of form and order is called darkness and tohu 
wabohu. After this the wise, divine will ordained the 
revolution of the uppermost sphere, which completes 
one revolution in four and twenty hours, carrying all 


other spheres with it. Through this the matter which 
fills the sphere of the moon underwent a change, which 
was in accordance with the movements of the spheres. 
The first process was that the air near the moon sphere 
became hot, because it was nearest to the periphery. 
It thus became an aetherial fire, called elementary fire 
by natural philosophers, having neither colour nor com- 
bustion, and being a fine, delicate, and light substance. 
It is called the fire sphere. Then comes the water 
sphere, and then the terrestrial globe, which forms a 
heavy and compact centre, being removed farthest 
from the periphery. These are the four elements, 
from the intermixture of which all things arise. 

3. Al Khazari : In the opinion of philosophers, as 
I see, things arise by accident, since they say that that 
which happened to be nearest to the sphere became 
fire, and what was remotest became earth, whilst the 
middle part, according to proximity either to the peri- 
phery or to the centre, became air or water. 

4. The Rabbi : Yet necessity forces them to ack- 
nowledge a divine wisdom in the distinction of one 
element from the other. The fire element is not dis- 
tinguished from the atmospheric element, the latter 
from that of water, and the aquaeous one from the 
terrestrial one by quantity or strength, but by the form 
specific to each ; one is made into fire, another into air, the 
third into water, and the last into earth, otherwise one 
might say that the whole sphere is filled up with earthy 
matter, but that one portion was finer than another. 
Another may assert that it is all fire, only the lower 
parts are denser and cooler. We see that the [spheres 
of the] elements touch one another, but each preserves 
its form and speciality. We see how air, water and 

PART V 251 

earth are in contact in one place without absorbing each 
other, till they are transformed one into another by 
other causes. Water assumes the form of air, air the 
form of fire, and then the element justly takes the 
other's name. Since substances, apart from their 
accidences, are distinguished by their forms, philo- 
sophers found it correct to assert the activity of a 
divine creative intellect which bestows these forms, 
just as it bestowed them to plants and animals, which 
are all composed of the four elements. The vine and 
palm are not distinguished by accidental qualities, but 
by forms which made the substance of one different 
from the substance of the other. Accidental qualities 
would only distinguish one vine from another, and one 
palm from another, one, e.g. being black, the other one 
white, one sweeter, one longer or shorter, one thicker 
or thinner than the other. The forms of substances 
have no quantity ; one horse cannot be less equine than 
another, nor one man more human than another, be- 
cause the definitions ' equine ' and ' human ' are com- 
mon to each individual horse and man. Philosophers 
involuntarily acknowledged that these forms could only 
be given by the Divine Influence, which they call form- 
giving Intelligence. 

5. Al Khazari : This, as thou livest ! is belief, con- 
sidering that reason forces us to acknowledge such a 
thing. How can we now speak of accidents, or why 
do we not say that he who made this being a horse, 
and the other a man, by wisdom incomprehensible in 
detail, is the same who made fire fire, and earth earth 
through a wisdom beheld by God, but not by accidental 
proximity to or distance from the sphere ? 

6. The Rabbi : This is the religious argument. Evi- 


dence of it is to be found in the Children of Israel, 
for whose sake changes in nature were wrought, as well 
as new things created. If this evidence be removed, 
thy opponent and thou might agree that a vine, e.g. 
grew in this place because a seed happened to have 
fallen there. The seed assumed its form only by 
accident, because the revolution of the sphere resulted 
in a constellation which caused a mixture of elements 
productive of what thou now seest. 

[7. 2 Al Khazari : I should refer my opponent to 
the uppermost sphere and its mover, and ask him 
whether or not, this is the result of accident. I should 
further refer him to the spherical constellations, which 
are unlimited. We see, however, that the number of 
forms of animal and plant life is not unlimited, allow- 
ing neither increase nor diminution. One might think 
that new constellations would produce new formations, 
and that others would perish.] 

8. The Rabbi : This is all the more correct, as with 
regard to many we understand their inherent wisdom 
as well as purpose, just as Aristotle explained in his 
discourse on ' The utility of the species of animals,' 3 
or Galen in ' The utility of the organs,' not to speak 
of other wonderful achievements of the divine wisdom. 
In the instance of domestic animals, such as sheep, 
cattle, horses and asses, it is clear that they were 
created for the benefit of man. For in a wild state 
they are imperfect, but useful when domesticated. 
David's allusion in the words : ' How great are Thy 
works, Lord ' (Ps. civ. 24), serves to refute Epicurus' 
view that the universe arose by accident. 

9. Al Khazari : Although it may be a digression, 
explain the meaning of this psalm to me. 

PART V 253 

10. The Rabbi : It runs parallel with the history 
of creation. The words : ' He who covereth Himself 
with light ' (ver. 2), correspond to c Let there be light, 
and there was light ' (Gen. i. 3). The words : ' He stretch - 
eth out the heavens like a carpet ' run parallel to * Let 
there be a firmament ' ; the words : c He who layeth the 
beams' to 'the water above the firmament' (ver. 3). 
He then describes the atmospheric phenomena, clouds, 
winds, fires, lightnings, and thunder, which all stand 
under God's guidance, as it is written : ' For by them 
judgeth He the people ' (Job xxxvi. 31). In the psalm 
this is described in the words : ' He who maketh the 
clouds His chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the 
winds, who maketh the winds His messengers, and His 
ministers a flaming fire ' (ver. 3-4). This means that He 
dispatches them whither and on what errand He desires. 
Thus far the phenomena of the atmosphere. The 
psalm, then, passes on to ' let the waters ... be 
gathered . . . and the dry land appear ' (ver. 9), which 
is parallel to : 'He founded the earth on its bases.' 
According to its nature water would close up above 
the earth, covering it completely, hills and dales, like 
a garment, as the psalm hath it : ' With the^flood, as 
with a robe, Thou coveredst it ; waters stand above 
the mountains.' Divine Providence, however, ob- 
viated its natural inclination, and sent it down to the 
ocean's deep, to let animals arise and God's wisdom 
appear. The words : ' At Thy rebuke they flee,' 
describe the retirement of the water in the seas and 
underneath the earth. The same condition is alluded 
to in the words : ' To Him that spread out the'earth 
above the water ' (Ps. cxxxvi. 6), a sentence which 
seemingly contradicts the other : ' With the flood as 


with a robe Thou coveredst it,' the latter corresponding 
to the nature of the water, whilst the former describes 
God's wisdom and omnipotence. Then the psalm 
continues : ' Thou didst appoint a bound, that they 
might not pass over, nor turn again to cover the earth ' 
(Ps. civ. 9). All this is intended for the benefit of 
mankind. By means of certain clever works and 
dykes man keeps off the floods of rivers, utilising only 
so much water as is required for mills and irrigation. 
The psalm now says : ' He sends forth springs into the 
valleys ' (ver. 10), that they should ' give drink to every 
beast of the plain' (ver. 11), as soon as the wild beasts 
were created. The words : c Upon them dwell the 
birds of the heaven ' (ver. 12) refer to the creation of the 
birds. The psalm, then, passes on to ' Let the earth 
bring forth ' (Gen. i. 11) in the words : ' To the moun- 
tains He gives drink from His upper chambers ' (ver. 13). 
This is only another expression for : ' But there went 
up a mist from the earth ' (Gen. ii. 16) likewise for the 
benefit of Adam and his posterity. The psalm 
says : ' He causes grass to spring up for the cattle ' 
(ver. 14), lest the grass be despised, since it is of service 
for the domestic animals, oxen, sheep, and horses. 
This is described in the words : * Service of man,' (ibid.), 
viz. agriculture, by means of which he produces corn 
for himself, as is expressed in the words : ' To bring 
forth bread from the earth.' This is parallel to the 
verse : ' Behold, I have given you every herb bearing 
seed, viz. the corn for man, and the chaff for the rest 
of creatures ' (Gen. i. 29), as it is said : ' And to every 
beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the heaven 
. . . every green herb for meat '(ibid. 30). The psalm 
then mentions the three foods gained from the soil, 

PART V 255 

viz. corn, wine and oil, which are comprised in the 
term lefam, and their usages as follows : ' Wine which 
gladdens man's heart, to make his face shine more than 
oil,' ' and bread,' viz. the loaf sustains man's heart ' 
(ver. 15). Then he mentions the importance of rain for the 
trees in the words : ' The trees of the Lord have their 
fill ' (ver. 16). These high trees have a use for some 
animals, as is expressed in the words : ' Wherein the 
birds make their nests ' (ver. 17), just as the high moun- 
tains serve other animals, viz. ' The high mountains 
are for the wild goats, the crags a refuge for the coneys.' 
Thus far the description of the dry land. The psalm 
then discusses the Biblical words : ' Let there be lights ' 
as follows : e The moon He made to measure time,' 
(ver. 19). After this is mentioned the utility of the night 
which is not the work of accident, but of intention. 
There is no trifling in His work, nor even in the acci- 
dental consequences of the same. The night is but the 
time of the absence of sunlight, yet instituted for a 
purpose. This is expressed in the words : ' Thou 
makest darkness, and it is night ' (ver. 20). This is fol- 
lowed by the description of beasts dangerous to man, 
which go forth at night and hide by day, whilst man 
and domestic animals sleep at night and walk abroad 
during the day. ' Man goes forth to his work and to 
his labour until the evening ' (ver. 23). Having thus 
included all terrestrial animals in the discussion of the 
rivers and heavenly lights, and having also mentioned 
man, there only remain the animals which live 
in water, the life of which is very little known to us, 
because Divine Wisdom lavished on them is not so 
manifest to us as in the former. Speaking of the 
wisdom which is visible, the psalmist breaks out in 


praise and says : ' How manifold are Thy works, 
Lord ! ' (ver. 24). He then resumes the subject of the 
ocean and what is therein, concluding with the words : 
8 Let the glory of the Lord endure for ever ; let the 
Lord rejoice in His works ' (ver. 31 ). This is a rendering 
of the words : c And God saw everything that He had 
made, and behold it was very good' (Gen. i. 31). At 
the same time it is an allusion to the seventh day in the 
words : ' He rested,' ' He blessed,' ' He sanctified,' 
because it marked the completion of the works of 
nature, which had a time limit, and placed man on a 
par with angels, which, being spirits, are above natural 
impulses, and not bound by time in their works. In- 
tellect can, as we see, picture heaven and earth in one 
moment. This is the world of celestial life and bliss 
where the soul finds ease at the moment when it reaches 
it. The Sabbath is, therefore, called ' a taste of the 
world to come.' Let us now resume the discussion on 
the opinion held by philosophers that the elements 
having entered various combinations relative to the 
variety of climes, atmosphere, and constellations, 
received a variety of forms from the Giver of forms. 
All minerals are, therefore, but the sum total of the 
specific powers and faculties. Others assert that the 
powers and qualities of minerals are the product of 
combination only, and consequently do not require 
forms of divine origin. The latter are only necessary 
for plants and animals to which a soul is attributed. 
The finer this mixture is, the nobler is the form proper 
for it in which the divine wisdom manifests itself in a 
higher degree. It becomes a plant which is possessed 
of some feeling and perception, penetrates the earth, 
and derives nourishment from good, moist soil and 

PART V 257 

sweet water, avoiding the contrast. Thus it grows, 
until it comes to a stand-still, having given life to 
another like it and produced seed. This seed, then, 
according to a wisdom implanted in it, pursues a 
similar course. Philosophers call this nature, 4 or 
rather powers which guard the preservation of the 
species, since the essence of the individual cannot be 
preserved, it being composed of various component 
parts. A thing which possesses these powers of 
growth, propagation and nourishment, is devoid of the 
power of motion, and is, in the opinion of philosophers, 
guided by nature. As a matter of fact, it is God who 
controls it in a certain condition. Call this condition 
what thou wilt, nature, soul, power, or angel. If the 
mixture is still finer, and fit to be impressed by the 
divine wisdom, it is favoured with a higher form than 
the bare physical power. It is able to bring its food 
from a distance, and is possessed of organs subject to 
it, which cannot move except by its desire. It has 
more control over its parts than the plant with which 
the wind plays, which cannot ward off damage, nor 
obtain what is useful to it. The animal has limbs to 
move about from place to place. The form allotted 
to it above its physical life is called soul. The souls 
vary greatly according to the preponderance of one 
or the other of the four elements. The wisdom of 
Providence has also constituted each living being for 
the benefit of the whole world. We may not be aware 
of the use of most of them, any more than we know 
of the use of ships' implements, and consider them 
therefore useless, whilst the master and builder of the 
ship knows it. We would not know the purpose of 
many of our bones and other organs if they lay de- 



tached before us, and so we are in ignorance of the 
purpose of every bone and limb, although we use it, 
and are convinced that if we lacked one, our actions 
would be impaired, and we could not do without it. 
All atoms of the world are known to, and mustered by, 
their Creator, and nothing can be added to it, nor any- 
thing taken away from it. It is necessary that souls 
should differ from each other, and that the organs of 
each soul should be suitable to it. For this reason He 
endowed the lion with organs for seizing its prey, such 
as teeth and claws, in addition to courage ; but to the 
hart He gave the means of flight as compensation for 
its timidity. 5 Every soul instinctively uses its faculties 
according to their nature, but nature does not reach 
perfection in any part of animal life, and consequently 
has no desire to obtain a form higher than the living 
soul. This, however, is possible in man, in whom it 
strives for a higher form. The Divine Influence 
grudges nothing. It bestows on him a higher form, 
called material or passive intellect. Men differ from each 
other, because most of them are physically of different 
constitutions, and the intellect follows the latter. If 
his gall be yellowish, he is quick and alert ; if blackish, 
he is quiet and sedate. The temperament follows the 
mixture of humours. If an individual is found of 
evenly balanced humour, which controls his contrasting 
dispositions (like the two scales of a balance in the 
hand of the person who weighs and regulates them 
by adding or subtracting at his will), such a person 
possesses without doubt a heart which is free from 
strong passions. He covets a degree of divine char- 
acter above his own. He is perplexed, not knowing 
which inclination should have preponderance. He 

PART V 259 

does not give way either to anger, or to lust, or to any 
other passion, but controls himself, and seeks divine 
inspiration to walk the right path. This is the person 
on whom the divine and prophetic spirit is poured out, 
if he is fit for prophecy, but if he stands below that 
degree, he is only endowed with inspiration. In the 
latter case he is a pious man, but no prophet. There 
is no niggardliness with God, who allows every one his 
due. Philosophers call the giver of this degree Active 
Intellect, and regard it as an angel below God. 
If a man's intellect is in conjunction with the former, 
this is called his paradise and lasting life. 

11. Al Khazari : Give me a brief discourse on all 

12. The Rabbi : The existence of the human soul 
is shown in living beings by motion and perception, in 
contradistinction to the movements of the elements. 
The cause of the former is called soul, or animal power. 
This is divided into three divisions. The first is that 
which is common to animal and plant -life, and is called 
vegetative power ; the second, which is common to man 
and the rest of living beings, is called vital power ; the 
third specific of man is called rational power. The 
nature of the soul in the comprehensive and generic 
sense is defined by the examination of its actions as 
issuing from the forms adhering to matter, but not from 
matter, inasmuch as it is matter only [without form]. 
The knife, for instance, does not cut inasmuch as it is 
a substance, but inasmuch as it has the form of a knife. 
In the same way the animal does not feel and move 
inasmuch as it is a substance, but inasmuch as it has 
the form of a living being. This is what is called soul. 
These forms are called perfections (entelechies), be- 


cause through them the structures of things become 
perfect. The soul is therefore a perfection. We dis- 
tinguish a primary and a secondary perfection. The 
former is the principle of actions, the latter the nature 
of the actions which arise out of the principle. The 
sold is a primary perfection, because it is a principle 
from which something else [i.e. a secondary entelechy] 
may issue forth. The entelechy is either entelechy to 
a corporate object, or entelechy to amorphous matter. 
The soul is entelechy to a corporate object. Corporate 
objects are either natural or artificial. The soul is first 
entelechy to a natural corporate object. A natural cor- 
porate object is either organic or inorganic, which 
means that it performs its actions either by means of 
organs or without them. The soul is entelechy to a 
natural corporate object, endowed with organs, and po- 
tentially with life, viz. a mainspring of potentially 
vivified actions, or susceptible to such. The next 
consequence is that the soul is not the result of a com- 
bination of elements of substance. If a thing arises 
from a combination of component parts, one or more 
of these component parts preponderate, its form shapes 
itself accordingly. Or the component parts struggle 
with one another, so that not one of them retains its 
form, but their medium yields a new form. The soul 
which is not composed of corporeal ingredients is there- 
fore nothing but external form, like the impression made 
by the seal in the clay which is composed of water 
and earth. The seal is not the result of the forms of 
water and earth. The first of the [vegetative] powers 
is that of nutrition, which forms, so to speak, the begin- 
ning, whilst that of propagation forms the end. The 
faculty of growth is in the middle, linking the begin- 

PART V 261 

ning to the end. The faculty of propagation occupies 
the first place, and although it appears to be placed at 
the end, it rules supreme over the substance which is 
fitted to receive life. Assisted by growth and nutri- 
tion, it clothes it with the intended form. It 
then leaves the further management to the latter two 
till the moment of propagation. Propagation is aided, 
nutrition aids, growth aids and is aided. Nutrition 
has those four well-known powers at its disposal. 
Everything that moves does so by the will of a per- 
ception ; otherwise perception were useless. Provi- 
dence, however, produces nothing that is either useless 
or injurious. Neither does it withhold anything that 
is necessary or useful. Even mollusks, though appar- 
ently lying quietly, can contract and stretch them- 
selves, and if placed on their backs, move till they turn 
over on their bellies, in order to reach their food. The 
exterior senses are thus known. As to the interior 
ones, the first is the general sense, 6 because that which 
is useful or injurious can only be learnt by experience. 
God therefore gave man the faculty of conception, that 
he may grasp by its means the forms of objects per- 
ceived. This is what is meant under the term general 
sense. Then He gave him the faculty of remembering, 
to retain the notions of things perceived ; further, the 
power of imagination, in order to restore what had been 
lost to memory ; the faculty of judgment, in order to 
pause again and again at the new products of imagina- 
tion, correct or false, till it is restored to memory. 
Lastly, He endowed him with the power of motion, in 
order to procure what is required from near and far, 
and to remove what is injurious. All the powers of a 
living being are either perceptive or motive. The 


motive power is of optative character, and is divided 
into two classes, viz. firstly Amoving to obtain what is 
desired, i.e. avidity ; secondly, moving to repel what 
is undesirable, i.e. dislike. Perception is also divided 
into two classes, viz. external faculties, as the external 
senses ; and internal faculties, as the internal senses. 
The motive power acts on the judgment of conception 
and with the assistance of imagination. It forms the 
extreme limit of animal life ; for the motive power fails 
it in restoring the causes of perception and imagination. 
It is only endowed with the sense of instinct to regulate 
the causes of motion. Rational beings, on the other 
hand, are endowed with motion in order^to obtain the 
rational soul, which has action and memory. The five 
senses, as is known, offer the means of perceiving form, 
number, size, motion, and rest. The existence of the com- 
mon sense is explained if we, for instance, judge when we 
find honey that it is sweet. This is only possible 
because we possess a faculty common to the five senses, 
viz., the perceptive power, which is active both in 
waking and sleeping. To this is added a faculty which 
either combines all that which is united in the common 
sense, or separates, and fixes their differences without, 
however, depriving forms of the common sense. This 
is the faculty of imagination which is sometimes correct, 
sometimes incorrect, whilst the faculty of perception 
is always correct. The next is the faculty of judgment, 
which is of a deciding character, and judges whether an 
object is desirable or undesirable. The faculties of 
perception and imagination can neither judge nor 
decide, but ^can jmly picture an object. The faculty 
of recollection retains the objects it has perceived, e.g. 
that the wolf is an enemy, and the child beloved. Love 

PART V 263 

and hatred, belief and unbelief belong to the realm of 
judgment. Memory retains that which the faculty of 
judgment declares to be true. The faculty of imagina- 
tion is so called when in the service of judgment, but 
if employed by reason, it is called cogitation. The seat 
of the faculty of perception is in the fore part of the 
brain, that of imagination in the middle, that of memory 
at the back. The seat of judgment is in the whole 
brain, principally at the border line of the faculty of 
imagination. All these faculties perish with their 
organs, and no duration is granted to reasonable 
beings, although it claims the nucleus, so to speak, of 
these faculties as its own, and renders their real char- 
acter manifest. This is the result of the philosopher's 
discourses on that which is beneath the rational soul. 
They call the soul hylic intellect, i.e. potential intellect, 
because it resembles matter which forms the con- 
necting link between nothingness and actuality ; in 
other words, all potential objects. They obtain ra- 
tional forms either by way of divine inspiration or by 
application. Those obtained by inspiration are the 
result of original conception shared by all human 
beings guided by nature. Those acquired by applica- 
tion are gained by speculation and dialectic corollary. 
The result is the formation of logical conclusions, as 
species, classes, divisions, specialities, words simple 
and composed in various ways ; compound conclusions 
true or untrue ; propositions from which arise 
either apodictic, dialectic, rhetoric, sophistic, or 
poetic conclusions. [There arise further] the estab- 
lishment of physical notions, as matter, form, nothing- 
ness, nature, place, time, motion, spherical and elemen- 
tary substances, growth and decay in general ; the 


origin of meteorological, mineral and terrestrial phe- 
nomena, as plants and animals ; the essence of man ; 
the nature of the soul according to its own conception ; 
further, things mathematical, such as arithmetic, 
geometry, music, astronomy ; further, things metaphy- 
sical, such as the knowledge of beginning and existence 
as such in general, and the accessories thereof either 
potential or actual, principle, cause, substance, accident, 
species and class, contrast and connaturality, congru- 
ence and difference, unity and plurality ; the establish- 
ment of the principles of speculative subjects, as mathe- 
matics, natural history, from logic, [all of] which can only 
be gained by a knowledge of the last-named ; further, the 
establishment of the existence of the Prime Creator, of 
the universal soul, the nature of species, the relation of the 
intellect to the Creator, the relation of the soul to the 
intellect, the relation of nature to the soul, the relation 
of matter and form to nature, the relation of the spheres, 
stars and other phenomena to matter and form. Then 
we must consider why they are constructed with such 
differences of sequence,* the knowledge of divine 
guidance, of universal nature, of divine providence. 
The rational soul sometimes derives certain forms from 
the senses by applying to its own needs perception and 
memory, and making use of imagination and judgment. 
We shall then find that these forms have some attri- 
butes in common, but that they differ in others ; some 
of these attributes are essential, others accidental. 
The soul divides or combines, and produces species, 
categories, divisions, specialities, and accidences. It 

Lit. earlier and later. 

PART V 265 

then combines them by means of syllogisms, and pro- 
duces satisfactory conclusions with the assistance of 
the universal intellect. Although, at first, it reposed 
on the faculties of perception, it does not require them 
for the formation of the ideas themselves, nor in the 
composition of the syllogisms, be it to verify them, or 
to form a conception. Just as the faculties of per- 
ception only acquire something relative to the object 
perceived, thus the intellectual faculties only con- 
ceive something relative to the conceived object, by 
abstracting the form from the matter, and remaining 
attached to the former. The faculty of perception, 
however, does not act spontaneously as does the 
rational soul, but it requires the motive power as well 
as the assistance of intermediaries which establish a 
connexion between the forms and itself. The power 
of intellect conceives spontaneously and conceives 
itself as often as it desires. The faculty of perception 
is therefore called passive, but the power of intellect is 
called active. Actual reason is nothing but the abstract 
of objects conceived, potentially existing in reason 
itself [and rendered actual by the same]. It is there- 
fore also said that actual reason comprehends and is 
comprehended simultaneously. It is one of the special 
characteristics of reason that, by means of synthesis 
and analysis it transforms plurality into unity and 
unity into plurality. Although the activity of reason 
in combining proportions by means of careful considera- 
tion appears to require a certain time, the deduction 
of the conclusion is not dependent on time, reason 
itself being above time. When the rational soul turns 
its attention towards science, its activity is called 
theoretical reason. If, however, it undertakes to subdue 


animal instincts, its activity is called guidance, and it 
assumes the name of practical reason. Some people's 
reasoning power succeeds in establishing so intimate 
a connexion with the universal reason, that it is lifted 
above logical conclusions and meditation, escaping such 
necessity by inspiration and revelation. This special 
distinction is styled sanctity, or holy spirit. A proof 
that the soul is real, though incorporeal and no acces- 
sory, is to be found in the circumstance that it is the 
form of a corporeal object. According to its nature it 
cannot be divided like a corporeal object, or like an 
accessory when the substratum of the same is divided. 
Colour, smell, taste, heat and cold are divided as soon 
as their substrata are divided, though their nature is 
indivisible. The form of the intellect consists in the 
object conceived. A human being's conception cannot 
be divided, because half, or a piece of a human being 
cannot be styled man, although part of a corporeal 
object, or a colour can retain their names. Colour and 
corporeal object, if only existing in conception, allow 
no division even in thought. One cannot say : Half 
of a conceived colour, or half of a conceived corporeal 
object, as one can say : ' Half of this object is per- 
ceived,' or ' Half of the colour borne by it and referring 
to it.' One cannot speak of half of Zeid's soul, as one 
can speak of half of his body ; for the former can neither 
be limited locally, nor defined in any way, nor pointed 
to. Now if it cannot be either a corporeal object nor 
an accessory borne by a corporeal object, its existence 
is manifested by its activity. There remains nothing 
but to see in it a substance with an existence of its own, 
endowed with angelic attributes and divine substan- 
tiality. Its primary tools are those spiritual forms 

PART V 267 

which shape themselves in the centre of the brain from 
the psychical spirit by]means of the power of imagina- 
tion. The latter gives the faculty of reflecting, as soon 
as it becomes predominant enough to produce synthe- 
tical and analytical knowledge. It had been imaginative 
prior to this, when judgment was predominant in it, 
as is the case with children, animals, and with people 
whose constitution has been tried by illness. As a 
consequence the human soul is deprived of those for- 
mations on account of the synthetical and analytical 
processes which are required for the unimpaired con- 
sideration of an opinion. In such a case the opinion 
becomes a defective judgment, wholly or partially. 
A proof that the soul is distinct from the body, and 
does not require it, is to be found in the circumstance 
that the physical powers are weakened by strong in- 
fluences. The organ of the eye is damaged by the sun, 
and the ear by too strong a sound. The rational soul, 
however, retains whatever stronger knowledge it has 
obtained. Moreover, old age attacks the body, but 
not the soul. The latter is stronger after the fiftieth 
year, whilst the body is on the decline. The activity 
of the body is limited, which is not the case with that 
of the soul, for geometrical, arithmetical, and logical 
forms are unlimited. There now remains to be shown 
that there exists a spiritual substance, distinct from 
the body, which stands in the same relation to the soul 
as the light to the eye, and as soon as the soul is separated 
from the body, it is united to that substance. The soul 
does not gain its knowledge empirically. For the 
results of experience cannot be judged apodictically. 
No one can assert apodictically that no man can move 
his ears, just as we may judge that every human being 


feels ; that every one who feels, lives ; that every one 
who lives is a substance ; that the whole is larger than 
a part, and other fundamental truths. For our belief 
in the correctness of opinions is not regulated by in- 
struction, otherwise we should come to an endless 
chain of conclusions. But then the rational soul comes 
into connexion with the divine emanation. As long 
as this divine emanation is not defined by the general 
spiritual form, it cannot impregnate the soul with it. 
Every being possessed of an essentially spiritual form 
is an incorporeal substance. If this be so, this emana- 
tion is a spiritual, incorporeal substance, with an 
existence of its own. The conception which the soul 
has of the form is a perception (entelechy) for it. It 
would succeed in coming into contact with the spiritual 
substance, if its intimacy with the body did not inter- 
fere. A complete connexion is, however, impossible, 
unless all physical powers are subdued. For it is the 
body alone which prevents this connexion. As soon 
as the soul is separated from it, it becomes perfect, 
connected with what renders it immune to injury, and 
united with the noble substance which is styled the 
higher knowledge. 7 All other powers only act for the 
body, and perish together with organs. The rational 
soul, however, having fashioned them, appropriated 
their kernel, as has been explained before. 

13. Al Khazari : This philosophical discourse appears 
to be more accurate and true than others. 

14. The Rabbi : I feared that thou wouldst be 
deceived, and acquiesce in their views. Because they 
furnish mathematical and logical proofs, people accept 
everything they say concerning physics and meta- 
physics, taking every word as evidence. Didst thou not, 

PART V 269 

from the very beginning, doubt their theories of the 
four elements, their search of the fire world, in which 
they place the aetherial fire, which is colourless, and 
therefore prevent the colour of the sky and stars from 
being seen. When did we ever accept an elementary 
fire ? The highest degree of heat, if found in the earth, 
appears as coal ; in the air as flame ; in the water at 
boiling point. When did we ever witness an igneous 
or atmospheric substance entering into the substance 
of the plant or animal, and asserted that it was com- 
posed of all four elements, viz. fire, air, water, and 
earth ? Supposing we did perceive water and earth 
enter the substance of a plant in altered form ; but air 
and heat only assisted the process through their quality, 
but not as igneous and atmospheric bodies. Or when 
did we ever see them dissolved into the four real ele- 
ments ? If a part is reduced to a kind of dust, it is not 
real dust, but ashes, which can be used for healing 
purposes. Another part which is reduced to a kind 
of water is not real water, but an expressed liquid, a 
juice either poisonous or nourishing, but not drinkable 
water. The portion which is dissolved into a kind of 
air is vapour or fume, but no air fit to be breathed. 
Sometimes they alter their condition when absorbed 
by an animal or a plant, or enter a combination with 
earthly particles, move from alteration to alteration, 
but only in rare cases are they reduced to the pure 
element. Science, it is true, forces us to accept the 
theory that heat, cold, moisture, and dryness are 
primary qualities, the influences of which nobody can 
escape ; that reason reduces compound things to them, 
or declares them to be composed of them ; and places 
substances at their disposal which bear them, 


calling them fire, air, water, and earth. This is, how- 
ever, but a conception and nomenclature, but it does 
not mean that they can emerge from mere theory into 
reality, and produce, by combination, all existing 
things. How can philosophers make such an assertion, 
whilst teaching the eternity of matter, and that man 
never arose otherwise than from issue and blood, blood 
from food, food from vegetables, and vegetables, as 
we have said, from seeds and water transformed with 
the assistance of sunlight, air, and earth. All stars 
and spherical constellations also exercise their in- 
fluence. This is the objection to the view of philo- 
sophers concerning the elements. According to the 
Torah, it was God who created the world, together 
with animals and plants. There is no need to pre- 
suppose intermediaries or combinations [of elements]. 
If we make creation a postulate, all that is difficult 
becomes easy, and all that is crooked straight, as soon 
as one assumes that this world once did not exist, but 
came into existence by the will of God at the time He 
desired. Why dost thou trouble to examine the way 
in which bodies arose and were equipped with souls ? 
Why art thou reluctant to accept the ' firmament ' and 
' the water above the heavens,' and the evil spirits 
mentioned by the Sages, the description of the events 
to be expected during the days of the Messiah, the 
resurrection of the dead and the world to come ? Why 
should we need such artificial theories in order to prove 
the life of the soul after the dissolution of the body, 
considering that we have reliable information with 
regard to the return of the soul, be it spiritual or cor- 
poreal. If thou wouldst endeavour to confirm or 
refute these views logically, life would be spent in vain. 

PART V * 271 

Who vouchsafes the truth of the theory quoted above, 
that the soul is a spiritual substance which cannot be 
encompassed by space, and which is not subject to 
growth and decay 1 In what way differs my soul from 
thine, or from the Active Intellect, from other causes 
and the Prime Cause ? Why, also, did not Aristotle's 
soul become united to that of Plato, either of them 
knowing the other's belief and innermost thought ? 
Why do not all philosophers conceive their notions 
simultaneously, as is the case with God and the Active 
Intellect ? How can they be subject to forgetfulness, 
and require reflection for every single one of their 
notions ? Why is not a philosopher conscious of himself 
when he is asleep or intoxicated, or is prostrate with 
pleurisy, or has brain fever, or is old and decrepit ? How 
should we judge a person who, having arrived at the 
extreme limit of philosophic speculation, is stricken 
by melancholy or depression, which makes him forget 
all his knowledge ? Is he not himself in his eyes, or 
shall we say that he is some one else ? Suppose he 
recovers gradually from his complaint, and begins to 
learn over again, but becomes old without having 
reached the former extent of his knowledge, has he two 
souls, the one different from the other ? 8 Suppose, 
further, that his temperament undergoes a change in 
the direction of love, ambition, or desire, shall I say 
that he has one soul in paradise and another in hell ? 
Which are the limits of metaphysical knowledge by 
means of which the human soul is separated from the 
body without perishing ? If this is the complete 
knowledge of existing things, much remains of which 
philosophers are ignorant concerning heaven, earth, 
and ocean. If one, however, must be satisfied with 


partial knowledge, then every rational soul exists 
separate, because primary notions are implanted in it. 
But if the isolated existence of the soul is based on the 
conception of the Ten Categories, or higher still, on the 
principles of intuition, in which all existing things are 
included ready to be grasped logically without follow- 
ing up all details, so is this a knowledge easily acquir- 
able in one day. It would be strange if man could 
become an angel in one day. If it is incumbent to go 
the whole length and comprehend all these things in 
logical and scientific study, then the matter is unattain- 
able and ends, in their opinion, infallibly in the death 
of the one who pursues it. Now thou didst allow thy- 
self to be deceived by injurious fancies, didst seek that 
which thy Creator did not grant thee, and to obtain 
which no facilities have been granted to human nature. 
Only a few privileged individuals are allowed to grasp 
such things on the conditions mentioned before. 8a These 
are the souls which comprehend the whole universe, 
know their Lord and His angels ; who see one another, 
and know each other's secrets, as the prophet says : 
'I, too, know it; be ye silent' (2 Kings ii. 3). We 
others, however, would not know how and by what 
means this came to pass, unless by way of prophecy. 
If what philosophers know of the matter were true, 
they would surely acquire it, since they discourse on the 
souls and prophecy. They are, however, like ordi- 
nary mortals. As regards human wisdom, they indeed 
occupy a high rank, as Socrates said : ' my people, I 
do not deny your knowledge of the gods, but I confess 
that I do not understand it. As for me, I am only 
wise in human matters.' Philosophers justify their 
recourse to speculation by the absence of prophecy 

PART V 273 

and divine light. They established the demonstrative 
sciences on a broad and unlimited basis, and on that 
account separated without either agreeing or disagree- 
ing with each other concerning that on which they held 
such widely diverging views later on in metaphysics, 
and occasionally in physics. If there exists a class 
representing one and the same view, this is not the 
result of research and investigation, but because they 
belong to the same philosophic school in which this was 
taught, as the schools of Pythagoras, Empedocles, 
Aristotle, Plato, or others, as the Academy and Peri- 
patetics, who belong to the school of Aristotle. They 
start with views which deprecate reason, but are depre- 
cated by the latter. An example of this is their ex- 
planation of the cause of the revolution of the sphere, 
and the endeavour of the latter to remedy its imper- 
fection, so as to be absolutely exact on all sides. As, 
however, this is not always possible and in all points, 
it tries to revolve the opposite way. They contrived 
similar theories with regard to the emanations from 
the Prime Cause, viz., that from the intuition of the first 
cause an angel arose ; and from its knowledge of itself a 
sphere arose, and thence downward in eleven degrees, un- 
til the emanation arrived at the Active Intellect, from 
which neither an angel nor a sphere developed. All 
these things are still less satisfactory than the " Book 
of Creation." They are full of doubts, and there is no 
consensus of opinion between one philosopher and 
another. Yet they cannot be blamed, nay, deserve 
thanks for all they have produced in abstract specu- 
lations. For their intentions were good ; they ob- 
served the laws of reason, and led virtuous lives. At 
all events, they have earned this praise, because the 



same duties were not imposed on them as they were 
on us when we were given revelation, and a tradition 
which is tantamount to revelation. 

15. Al Khazari : Give me a brief abstract of the 
views rife among the doctors of theology, whom the 
Karaites style : The Masters of the Kalam. 9 

16. The Rabbi : This would be of no use ; it would 
merely be an exercise in the dialectics of the Kalam, 
and a lesson on the Rabbinic sentence : ' Be careful to 
learn what answer to give to an Epicurean' (Aboth ii. 14). 
The consummate philosopher, like the prophet, can only 
impart little to another person in the way of instruction, 
and cannot refute his objections dialectically. As to 
the master of Kalam, learning sheds its lustre on him, 
thereby inducing his hearers to place him above the 
pious and immaculate whose learning consists in prin- 
ciples of a creed which allow of no refutation. The 
final aim of the Mutakallim in everything he learns and 
teaches is that these principles of creed enter his soul 
as well as that of his disciples in the same natural form 
as they exist in the soul of the pious person. In some 
cases the art of the Kalam does him greater harm than 
the principles of truth, because it teaches doubts and 
traditional prejudices. We experience a similar thing 
with people who apply themselves to prosody and 
practice scanning metres. There we can hear braying 
and a babel of words in an art which offers no diffi- 
culties to those naturally gifted. The latter enjoy 
making verses in which no fault can be found. The 
aim of the former class is to be like the latter who 
appear ignorant of the art of verse -making, because 
they cannot learn what the others are able to teach. 
The naturally gifted person, however, can teach one 

PART V 275 

similarly endowed with the slightest hint. In the 
same manner sparks are kindled in the souls of people 
naturally open to religion and approachment to God, 
by the words of the pious, sparks which become lumin- 
aries in their hearts, whilst those who are not so gifted 
must have recourse to the Kalam. He often derives 
no benefit from it, nay, he comes to grief over it. 

17. Al Khazari : I do not expect an exhaustive 
discourse on this subject, but I ask thee for some ab- 
stracts like those given to me before. For thou didst 
strike my ear, and my soul yearns for it. 

18. The Rabbi : The FIRST AXIOM deals with the 
creation of the world, with the object of making it an 
established fact, and it denies the theory that it is with- 
out beginning. If time had no beginning, the number 
of individuals existing in the past down to our own age 
would be endless. That which is endless cannot be 
actual. How could those individuals have become 
actual, being so many as to be without number ? 
There is no doubt, however, that the past had a begin- 
ning, and that the existing individuals are limited by 
a number. It is within the power of the human mind 
to count thousands or millions multiplied without 
end, at least in theory, but this cannot be done in 
reality. For that which becomes actual and can be 
counted as one, is like the number which is both actual 
and finite without doubt. How can the infinite be- 
come actual ? The world has, therefore, a beginning, 
and the revolutions of the spheres are subject to a 
finite number. Further, that which is infinite can 
neither be halved nor doubled, nor subjected to any 
arithmetical calculation. We are aware that the 
revolutions of the sun are one -twelfth of those of the 


moon, and that the other movements of spheres stand 
in similar relation to each other, one being the divisor 
of the other. The infinite, however, has no divisor. 
How could the one be like the other, which is infinite, 
being either below or above it, I mean larger or smaller 
in number ? How could the infinite come to us ? If 
an infinite number of things existed before us, how 
could the [idea of] number come to us ? If a thing 
has an end, it must also have had a beginning, other- 
wise each individual object must have waited for the 
[prior] existence of an infinite number of others ; so 
none would ever come into existence. 

SECOND AXIOM : The world is created, because it 
is a corporeal object. A corporeal object cannot be 
conceived without movement and rest, which are both 
attributes of accessory but not simultaneous character. 
That which is accessory must be newly made in accord- 
ance with its very nature. That which preceded has 
also been created. For had it been eternal, it could not 
have been non-existent. Consequently both [motion 
and rest] are created. A thing that cannot exist with- 
out newly created accessories is created itself, because it 
could not have been preceded by its accessories. If 
the latter are created, the former must be so likewise. 

THIRD AXIOM : Every created object must have a 
cause which created it. For the created object is con- 
nected with a certain time, irrespective of an earlier 
or later epoch. The circumstance that it is encom- 
passed by a specific time, irrespective of the period, 
renders a specificator necessary. 

FOURTH AXIOM : God is eternal, without beginning 
and without end. For had He been created, He would 
require a Creator. This would result in a chain of 

PART V 277 

conclusions without end, until we came to the first 
Creator, whom we look for. 

FIFTH AXIOM : God is everlasting, and will never 
cease to exist. For a being proved to be without 
beginning cannot have had a non-existence. Non- 
existence must have a cause, just as the disappearance 
of a thing from existence must also have a cause. 
Nothing vanishes from existence on its own account, 
but on account of its contrast. God, however, has 
neither a contrast nor His equal. For if anything 
were like Him in every respect, it would be Himself, 
but He cannot be described as twofold. The thing 
which causes non-existence cannot be without begin- 
ning, as has been explained before in connexion with 
the eternity of God's existence. He cannot, therefore, 
be a created Being, because everything newly arising 
must have its cause in the eternal Being. But how can 
the thing caused make its cause disappear ? 

SIXTH AXIOM : God is not corporeal. A corporeal 
object cannot be free from new accessories. A thing 
that is not free from new accessories is created. God 
cannot be called accidence, because the accidence cannot 
exist except on a substratum. The accidence is caused by 
the corporeal object by which it is attracted and borne. 
God, however, cannot be defined by a particular out- 
line or place, since this is the characteristic of a cor- 
poreal object. 

SEVENTH AXIOM : God knows all that is great or 
small, and nothing escapes His omniscience. For it 
has been shown that He created, arranged, and in- 
stituted everything, as it is written : ' He that planted 
the ear, shall He not hear ; He that formed the eye, 
shall He not see ? ' (Ps. xciv. 9). Further, ' Yea, dark- 


ness hideth not from Thee,' etc., and ' For Thou hast 
created my reins ' (ib. cxxxix. 12-13 ). 10 

EIGHTH AXIOM : God lives. His omniscience and 
omnipotence having been demonstrated, He must be 
living. His life, however, is not like ours, created with 
senses and movement, but a life of pure reason. His 
life and He are identical. 

NINTH AXIOM : God has will. For it is in His 
power to issue forth the opposite of all He caused to 
exist, or its non-existence, or anticipation, or post- 
ponement. His omnipotence is the same in any case. 
There must exist a will which fixes His omnipotence 
on one of these issues to the exclusion of the other. 
One might also say that His omniscience can spare both 
His omnipotence and will. In this case His omniscience 
would be identical with one particular time and issue, 
and His eternal omniscience would be the cause of 
every existing being just as it is. This agrees with the 
view of philosophers. 

TENTH AXIOM : The divine will is without begin- 
ning, and corresponds to His omniscience. Nothing 
in it can be renewed or altered. He is living through 
the very life of His nature, but not by means of an 
acquired life. He is omnipotent through His own 
power, has will through His own will. For the co- 
existence of a thing and that which negatives it is 
impossible. One cannot therefore say in a general 
way : Omnipotent without power. 

19. Al Khazari : This is sufficient to refresh my 
memory. There is no doubt that thy discourse on 
the soul and reason, as well as these axioms, was 
quoted from other authorities. Now I desire to hear 
thy own opinion and principles of faith. Thou didst 

PART V 279 

declare thy willingness to examine this and similar 
points. It seems to me that it will not be possible to 
omit the questions of predestination and human free 
will, since they are of actual importance. Now tell 
me thy mind. 

20. The Kabbi : Only a perverse, heretical person would 
deny the nature of what is possible, making asser- 
tions of opinions in which he does not believe. Yet 
from the preparations he makes for events he hopes 
for or fears, one can see that he believes in their possi- 
bility, and that his preparations may be useful. If he 
believed in absolute necessity, he would simply submit, 
and not equip himself with weapons against his enemy, 
or with food against his hunger. If he, on the other 
hand, thinks that either preparation or the omission 
of the same is necessary in accordance with the nature 
of the case, he admits intermediary causes, as well as 
their consequences. He will encounter his desire in 
every intermediary cause, and if he is just and not per- 
verse, he will find himself placed between himself and 
his desire to obtain achievable objects, which he can 
pursue or abandon as he likes. Such a belief is not 
incompatible with a belief in Divine Providence, but 
everything is led back to him in various ways, as I am 
going to explain. My opinion is that everything of 
which we are conscious is referred to the Prime Cause 
in two ways, either as an immediate expression of the 
divine will, or through intermediaries. An instance 
of the first kind is found in the synthetic arrangement 
visible in animals, plants and spheres, objects which 
no intelligent observer would trace back to accident, 
but to a creative and wise will, which gives everything 
its place and portion. An instance of the second kind 


is to be found in the burning of a beam. Fire is a fine, 
hot, and active substance, whilst wood is a porous and 
passive one. It is the nature of the fine and active 
substance to affect its object, whilst heat and dryness 
warm and volatilize the moisture of the object till it is 
completely dissolved. If thou seekest the causes of 
these processes, active as well as passive, thou wilt not 
fail to discover them. Thou mayest even discover the 
causes of their causes till thou arrivest at the spheres, 
then at their causes, and finally at the Prime Cause. 
One might justly say that everything is ordained by 
God, and another is equally right in making man's free 
will or accident responsible for it, without, however, 
bringing it outside the divine providence. If thou 
likest thou mayest render the matter more intelligible 
by means of the following classification. Effects are 
either of divine or of natural origin, either accidental 
or arbitrary. The divine ones issue forth actively, 
having no other causes except God's will. The natural 
ones are derived from intermediate, preparatory causes 
which bring them to the desired end, as long as no 
obstacle arises from one of the other three classes. 
The accidental ones are likewise the result of inter- 
mediary causes, but accidentally, not by nature or 
arrangement, or by will power. They are not pre- 
pared to be brought to completion and standstill, and 
they stand apart from the other three classes. As 
regards the arbitrary actions, they have their roots in 
the free will of man, when he is in a position to exercise 
it. Free will belongs to the class of intermediary 
causes, and possesses causes which reduce it, chainlike, 
to the Prime Cause. This course is not compulsory, 
because the whole thing is potential, and the mind 

PART V 281 

wavers between an opinion and its opposite, being 
permitted to turn where it chooses. The result is 
praise or blame for the choice, which is not the case in 
the other classes. An accidental or natural cause 
cannot be blamed, although some of them admit a 
possibility. But one cannot blame a child or a sleep- 
ing person for harm done. The opposite was possible 
just the same, and they cannot be blamed, because 
they lack judgment. Dost thou think that those who 
deny the potential are not wroth with those who injure 
them purposely. Or do they acquiesce in being robbed 
of their garments, and consequently also in suffering from 
cold, just as they would expose themselves to the north 
wind on a cold day ? Or do they believe that the anger 
about it is but a fallacious exertion, instituted for no 
purpose, that man may feel anger about one particular 
thing, or give praise and blame, show hatred etc. ? 
In these cases free will, as such, has no forcing cause, 
because it is itself reduced to compulsion. Man's 
language, then, would be as little free as the beating 
of his pulse. This would be against evident appear- 
ances. Thou perceivest that speaking or being silent 
is in thy power as long as thou art in possession of thy 
reason, and not controlled by other casualties. If all 
incidents would be the result of the original will of the 
Prime Cause, they would, each in its turn, be created 
anew in every moment. We might then say that the 
Creator created anew the whole world this very moment. 
The servant of God would be no better than the wicked, 
as both would be obedient, and only do that for which 
they are fated. A conviction of this kind has many 
objections, whilst the refutation of appearances is 
most difficult, as we said before. The objection made 


against those who assert that some matters are re- 
moved from the bounds of Providence by human free 
will is to be refuted by what was said before, viz. that 
they are completely outside the control of Providence, 
but are indirectly linked to it. There is still another 
objection, viz. that these matters are outside the divine 
omniscience, because the absolutely potential is natur- 
ally an unknown quantity. The Mutakallims con- 
sidered this matter in detail, with the result that the 
divine knowledge of the potential is but casual, and that 
the knowledge of a thing is neither the cause of its 
coming into existence, nor of its disappearance there- 
from. There is, withal, a possibility of existence and 
non-existence. For the knowledge of events to come 
is not the cause of their existence, just as is the case 
with the knowledge of things which have been. This 
is but a proof that the knowledge belongs to God, or 
to the angels, or the prophets, or the priests. If this 
knowledge were the cause of the existence of a thing, 
many people would be placed in paradise solely for the 
sake of the divine knowledge that they are pious, even 
if they have done no pious act. Others would be in 
Gehenna, because God knows them to be wicked, with- 
out their having committed a sin. Man should also 
be satisfied without having eaten, because he knows 
that he is accustomed to be satisfied at certain times. 
Another consequence would be that intermediary 
causes would cease to exist, and their disappearance 
would be shared by that of the intermediary factors. 
This renders the following verse intelligible : ' And 
God did prove Abraham' (Gen. xxii. 1), in order to 
render his theoretical obedience practical, and let it 
be the cause of his prosperity. He says subsequently : 

PART V 283 

" Because thou hast done this thing ... I will bless 
thee ' (ver. 10). Now since events must be either 
of divine origin, or arise out of one of the other 
classes, and the possibility exists that they are all 
providential, the people preferred to refer them all 
to God, because this encourages belief most effectually. 
He, however, who knows how to distinguish one 
people from another, one person from another, one time 
from another, one place from another, and certain 
circumstances from others, will perceive that heavenly 
dictated events mostly came to pass in the chosen and 
holy land, and among the privileged Israelitish people, 
and in that time and under circumstances which were 
accompanied by laws and customs the observation of 
which was beneficial, whilst their neglect wrought 
harm. Matters natural or accidental were of no avail 
against the undesired effect, nor could they do harm 
at the time of pious conduct. For this reason Israelites 
serve every religion as evidence against the heretics 
who followed the view of the Grecian Epicurus, viz. 
that all things are the outcome of accidents, since no 
settled purpose is ever discernible in them. His school 
is called that of the Hedonists, because they held the 
opinion that pleasure is the desired aim and goodness 
absolute. The endeavour of him who observes a law- 
giver's regulations is to find favour in his eyes, and to 
place his desires before him. He seeks inspirations if 
he is pious, or miracles if he is a prophet, or if his people 
enjoys the divine pleasure on the basis of the con- 
ditions of time, place and action, as put down in the 
Tor ah. He need not be concerned about natural or 
accidental causes, since he knows that he is protected 
from their evil consequences, either through preceding 


instruction which drives the evil away, or through 
some wonderful incident which is collateral with that 
evil. The good issuing from accidental causes is not 
denied to the sinner, much less to the virtuous. Happy 
events occurring to the wicked have their origin only in 
those accidental and natural causes, but no one can ward 
off threatening calamities. The good, on the contrary, 
prosper through the same causes, whilst being 
protected from misfortune. But I have diverged 
a little from my subj ect. Returning to the same, I say 
that David laid down three causes of death, viz. ' God 
may slay him,' i.e. divine cause ; ' Or his day shall 
come to die,' i.e. natural cause ; ' Or he shall descend 
into battle and perish,' i.e. accidental cause (1 Sam. 
xxvi. 10). Ha omits the fourth possibility, viz. suicide, 
because no rational being seeks death voluntarily. If 
Saul killed himself, it was not to seek death, but to 
escape torture and derision. A similar classification 
can be made with regard to speech. The speech of a 
prophet at the time when he is enwrapped by the Holy 
Spirit is in every part directed by the Divine Influence, 
the prophet himself being powerless to alter one word. 
Natural speech consists in communications and hints 
which conform to the subject to be discussed, and the 
mind follows without previous convention. Conventional 
languages are composed of natural and arbitrary ele- 
ments. Accidental speech is that of a madman, and is 
neither in harmony with a subject, nor to the purpose. 
Free speech is that of a prophet when not inspired, or the 
words of an intelligent, thinking person who connects 
his words, and chooses his expressions in accordance 
with the subject under consideration. If he wished 
he could replace each word by another, could even drop 

PART V 285 

the whole subject and take up another. All these 
cases, however, can be reduced indirectly to God, but 
not as immediate issues of the Prime Will, otherwise 
the words of a child, and mad people, the speech of an 
orator, and the song of a poet were the words of God. 
Far be this from Him. The excuse of a slothful person 
who tells the energetic one that that which is to be, 
exists previously in the knowledge of God, is incon- 
clusive. For should he even assert that that which 
shall be must be, he is told : ' Quite so ; but this argu- 
ment should not prevent thee to take the best counsel, 
to prepare weapons against thy enemy, and food for 
hunger, as soon as thou art aware that that both thy 
safety and destruction depend upon intermediary 
causes.' One of them, which is the most frequent, is 
the application of energy and industry, or of lassitude 
and indolence. Do not try to refute me with those 
rare and accidental cases, viz. that a circumspect person 
perishes, whilst the careless and unprotected one is 
saved. For the word safety means something quite 
different from the word risk. A sensible person will 
not flee from a place of safety to one of risk, just as one 
flees from a dangerous place to a safe one. If safety 
accrues in the place of danger this is considered rare, 
but if a person perishes in a safe place, it is called 
an extraordinary occurrence. One should, therefore, 
employ circumspection. One of the causes of care- 
lessness is the view opposite to this advice. Every- 
thing, however, is indirectly related to God. Whatever 
happens through direct ordination belongs to the class 
of strange and miraculous events, and can dispense with 
intermediary causes. In some cases* they^are, however, 
necessary, as in the preservation of Moses during his 


fast of forty days, when he was without food, or in the 
destruction of Sanherib's army without a visible cause 
unless through a divine one which we cannot consider as 
such, as we do not know what it is. Of such we say that 
preparation avails them not, viz. preparation in the con- 
crete sense. Moral preparation, however, based on the 
secret of the law, benefits him who knows and understands 
it, because it brings what is good, and repels what is bad. 
If man aids intermediary causes with energy, having lei t 
to God the objects of his fear with a pure mind, he fares 
well, and suffers no loss. He, however, who courts danger 
[transgresses the warning : ' You shall not tempt the 
Lord ' (Deut. vi. 16), in spite of his confidence in God. 
But if one considers it absurd] 11 to give commands to 
a person who, as he knows beiforehand, may either 
disobey or obey him, this is not absurd. We have 
shown previouly that disobedience and obedience 
depend upon intermediary causes. The cause of 
obedience is the command for it. [The obeying person 
knew beforehand that he would do so and that the 
cause of it was that he had heard reproof.] 12 He also 
keeps in mind that disobedience depends on inter- 
mediary causes, which are to be found either in the 
companionship of wicked people, or in the preponderance 
of evil temperament, or inclination for comfort and rest. 
Finally, he knew that his disobedience was lessened 
through reproof. Reproof, as is known, impresses the 
mind in any case, and even the soul of an insubordinate 
person is in some small way influenced by reproof. In 
a higher degree this takes place in a multitude, because 
there is at any rate one person to be found who accepts 
it. Far from being useless, reproof is, therefore, useful. 
THE FIRST PRINCIPLE, containing the confirmation 

PART V 287 

of the above-mentioned advice, establishes the exist - 
once of the Prime Cause. God is the wise Creator, in 
whose works nothing is useless. They are all founded 
upon His wisdom and an order which suffers no de- 
terioration. Whoever contemplates this must find the 
conviction of the greatness of His creation deeply 
rooted in his mind. This results in the belief that no 
flaw can be found in His works. If in some minor 
matter a fault seems apparent, his belief is not shaken, 
but he ascribes it to his own ignorance and defective 

THE SECOND PRINCIPLE admits the existence of inter- 
mediary causes, which, however, are not active, but 
causes, either in the way of substance matter or instru- 
ments. Issue and blood are the materials of which man 
is formed, connected by the organs of propagation. The 
spirit and faculties are tools which employ them under 
the will of God, in order to produce a formation perfect 
in proportion, form and nurture. Intermediary causes 
are necessary for every created thing, as the dust which 
was required for the creation of Adam. It is therefore 
not superfluous to assume the existence of intermediary 

THE THIRD PRINCIPLE. God gives every substance 
the best and most appropriate form. He is the All- 
benevolent, who does not withhold His goodness, wis- 
dom, and guidance from anything. His wisdom visible 
in the flea and gnat is not less than in the order of the 
spheres. 13 The difference of things is the outcome of 
their substances. One cannot, therefore, ask : ' Why 
did He not create me an angel ? ' Just as little as the 
worm can ask : ' Why didst Thou not create me a 
human being ? ' 


THE FOURTH PRINCIPLE expresses the conviction 
that existing beings are of higher or lower degree. 
Everything that is possessed of feeling and perception 
is higher than those creatures which lack the same, since 
the former are nearer the degree of the Prime Cause 
which is Reason itself. The lowest plant occupies a 
higher rank than the noblest mineral, the lowest animal 
is higher than the noblest plant, and the lowest human 
being is higher than the noblest animal. Thus the 
lowest follower of the divine law occupies a higher place 
than the noblest heathen. For the divine law confers 
something of the nature of angels on the human mind, 
a thing which cannot be acquired otherwise. The proof 
is that prolonged practice of this law leads up to the 
degree of prophetic inspiration, than which there is no 
nearer degree to God for man. A froward monotheist 
is, therefore, preferable to the pagan, because the divine 
law empowered him to lead an angelic life and to reach 
the degree of angels, though it has become sullied and 
defaced by his frowardness. Some traces will always 
remain, and the fire of his longing for it is not quite 
extinguished. If he had his own choice, he would pre- 
fer to remain untutored, just as a sick and pain -plagued 
person would not prefer to be a horse, or fish, or bird, 
which, though happy and free from pain, is far removed 
from reason which brings near to the divine degree. 

THE FIFTH PRINCIPLE. The mind of him who listens 
to the reproof of an adviser is impressed by it, if it is 
acceptable. True reproof is useful in any case, and 
although the evil doer may not be brought back from 
his bad ways, a spark is kindled in his soul by this re- 
proof, and he sees that his deed is bad. This is part 
and beginning of repentance. 

PART V 289 

THE SIXTH PRINCIPLE. Man finds in himself this 
power of doing evil or avoiding it in matters which are 
in his hand. Any failure in this respect is accounted 
for by the absence of intermediary causes, or his ignor- 
ance of them. If, for instance, a strange beggar, unac- 
quainted with the art of governing, desires to become the 
ruler of a nation, one could not comply with his wish. 
Were he, however, possessed of the intermediary causes, 
and were he to know how to employ them, his desire 
would be justified, just as it would for an object the causes 
of which are at his disposal, and which he knows and con- 
trols when ruling his house, children, and servants or, in a 
higher degree, his limbs, which latter he can move as he 
chooses, whilst speaking as he likes ; or, in a still higher 
degree, controlling his thoughts and imagining objects far 
and near in any way he likes. He is master over his inter- 
mediary causes. For a similar reason it is unlikely that 
the weak chess player should beat the strong one. One 
cannot speak of good or bad fortune in a game of chess, 
as in a war between two princes. For the causes of the 
game are open completely to study, and the expert will 
always be the conqueror. He need fear nothing in the 
ordinary way which can cause him great difficulty, 
neither need he fear anything accidental, except perhaps 
anything unusual arising from inattention. The last- 
named, however, comes under the name of ignorance, 
which was discussed before. This being so, everything 
can be traced back to the Prime Cause in the way in- 
timated before. The Prime Will is visible in the history 
of the Israelites during the time when the Shekhinah 
dwelt among them. Afterwards it became doubtful, 
except in the hearts of the faithful, whether these even, 
were primarily caused by God or by spherical, or acci- 



dental causes. No decisive proof of this exists. It is, 
however, best to refer everything to God, particularly 
important events, such as death, victory, good and bad 
fortune, etc. 


21. This and similar subjects afford proper points for 
research, comprising as they do the character of the 
divine decrees concerning man, as intimated in the 
prophetic words : ' He visits the sin of the fathers on 
the children ... of his enemies . . . and showing 
mercy unto thousands of them that love Him and keep 
His commandments ' (Exod. xx. 5 sq.). This means that 
every iniquity is remembered till the time of punish- 
ment comes, as laid down in the Torah and the teachings 
of the Sages ; that some punishments can be warded off 
by repentance, and some not. It further includes the 
conditions of repentance, the trials, tribulations, and 
punishments for past transgressions which visit man as 
retaliation in this world, or the next, or for paternal 
transgressions, and, finally, the good fortune which we 
enjoy as a reward for former pious actions, or the * merit 
of the fathers,' or which are sent to try us. These 
points of view are complicated by others and deeper 
ones, and there remains some doubt whether an ex- 
amination will disclose the majority of causes of the 
misfortune of the just and the prosperity of the wicked. 14 
That which we cannot discover may be confidently left 
to God's omniscience and justice, and man must admit 
that he does not know the reasons, although they may 

PART V 291 

lie on the surface, and still less can be known those 
which are really hidden. If man's contemplations lead 
him to the Prime Being and to the necessary attributes, 
he withdraws from it, because he sees a curtain of light 
which blinds the eye. We are debarred from perceiving 
it on account of our defective sight and narrow minds, 
but not because it is^hidden or faulty. To those en- 
dowed with prophetic vision it appears too bright and 
resplendent to require any other proof. The culmin- 
ating point of our appreciation of His nature is that we 
are able to distinguish supernatural causes in natural 
occurrences. This we ascribe to a non-corporeal and 
divine power, just as Galen, speaking of the forming 
power, places it above all other forces. In his opinion 
it did not arise out of certain combinations, but miracu- 
lously, by command of God, and we see substances 
changed, the course of nature altered, and new things 
produced without craft. This is the difference between 
the work of Moses and that of the magicians whose 
secret art was open to discovery, just as Jeremiah says : 
' They are vanity, the work of errors ' (chap. x. 15). He 
means to say that when they are closely examined they 
appear vain as any contemptible thing. The Divine 
Influence, however, if investigated, appears as pure 
gold. If we have reached this degree, we say, that there 
is surely an incorporeal being which guides all corporeal 
substances, but which our mind is inadequate to ex- 
amine. We therefore dwell on His works, but refrain 
from describing His nature. For if we were able to 
grasp it, this were a defect in Him. We take, however, 
no heed of the words of philosophers who divide the 
divine world into various degrees. As soon as we are 
free from our bodies there is for us only one divine 


degree. It is God alone who controls everything cor- 
poreal. The reason why philosophers adopted many 
gods is to be found in their investigations of the move- 
ments of the spheres, of which they counted more than 
forty. They found for every movement a separate 
cause, from which they concluded that these movements 
were independent rather than necessary or natural. 
Each movement, therefore, originated with a soul. 
Every soul has intellect, and this intellect is an angel 
severed from material substance. They called these 
intellects, or angels, or secondary causes and other 
names. The nethermost degree, nearest to us, is the 
Active Intelligence, of which they taught that it guided 
the nether world. The next is the Hylic Intellect, then 
comes the soul, nature, the natural and animal forces, 
and the faculties of each [human] organ. All these, 
however, are subtleties, and pleasant for investigation. 15 
He who is deceived by them is in any case a heretic. 
Leave also alone the argument of the Karaites, taken 
from David's last will to his son : ' And thou, Solomon, 
my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve 
Him ' (1 Chron. xxviii. 9). They conclude from this 
verse that a complete knowledge of God must precede 
His worship. As a matter of fact, David reminded his 
son to imitate his father and ancestors in their belief in 
the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose solicitude 
was with them, and who fulfilled His promises in multi- 
plying their descendants, gave them Palestine, and 
caused His Shekhinah to dwell among them. It is also 
written : ' Gods which ye did not know,' but this does 
not allude to the real truth, but those objects from 
which r neither good nor evil can issue, and deserve 
neither confidence nor fear. 

PART V 293 

22. The Rabbi was then concerned to leave the land 
of the Khazari and to betake himself to Jerusalem. 
The king was loth to let him go, and spoke to him in 
this sense as follows : What can be sought in Palestine 
nowadays, since the divine reflex is absent from it, whilst, 
with a pure mind and desire, one can approach God in 
any place. Why wilt thou run into danger on land and 
water and among various peoples ? 

23. The Rabbi answered : The visible Shekhinah has, 
indeed, disappeared, because it does not reveal itself 
except to a prophet or a favoured community, and in a 
distinguished place. This is what we look for in the 
passage : ' Let our eyes behold when Thou returnest to 
Zion.' As regards the invisible and spiritual Shekhinah, 
it is with every born Israelite of virtuous life, pure heart, 
and upright mind before the Lord of Israel. Palestine 
is especially distinguished by the Lord of Israel, and no 
function can be perfect except there. Many of the 
Israelitish laws do not concern those who do not live 
there ; heart and soul are only perfectly pure and im- 
maculate in the place which is believed to be specially 
selected by God. If this is true in a figurative sense, 
how much more true in reality, as we have shown. 16 
Thus the longing for it is awakened with disinterested 
motives, especially for him who wishes to live there, 
and to atone for past transgressions, since there is no 
opportunity of bringing the sacrifices ordained by God 
for intentional and unintentional sins. He is supported 
by the saying of the Sages : ' Exile atones for sins,' 17 
especially if his exile brings him into the place of God's 
choice. The danger he runs on land and sea does not 
come under the category of : ' You shall not tempt the 
Lord ' 18 (Deut. vi. 16) ; but the verse refers to risks 


which one takes when travelling with merchandise in 
the hope of gain. He who incurs even greater danger 
on account of his ardent desire to obtain forgiveness is 
free from reproach if he has closed the balance of his 
life, expressed his gratitude for his past life, and is 
satisfied to spend the rest of his days in seeking the 
favour of his Lord. He braves danger, and if he escapes 
he praises God gratefully. But should he perish through 
his sins, he has obtained the divine favour, and may be 
confident that he has atoned for most of his sins by his 
death. In my opinion this is better than to seek the 
dangers of war in order to gain fame and spoil by courage 
and bravery. This kind of danger is even inferior to 
that of those who march into war for hire. 

24. Al Khazari : I thought that thou didst love free- 
dom, 19 but now I see thee finding new religious duties 
which thou wilt be obliged to fulfil in Palestine, which 
are, however, in abeyance here. 

25. The Kabbi : I only seek freedom from the service 
of those numerous people whose favour I do not 
care for, and shall never obtain, though I worked for it 
all my life. Even if I could obtain it, it would not profit 
me I mean serving men and courting their favour. I 
would rather seek the service of the One whose favour 
is obtained with the smallest effort, yet it profits in this 
world andthe next. This is the favour of God, His service 
spells freedom, and humility before Him is true honour. 

26. Al Khazari : If thou believest in all that thou 
sayest, God knows thy mind. The mind is free before 
God, who knows the hearts and discloses what is hidden. 

27. The Rabbi : This is true when action is impossible. 
Man is free in his endeavours and work. But he de- 
serves blame who does not look for visible reward for 

PART V 295 

visible work. For this reason it is written : ' Ye shall 
blow an alarm with the trumpets, and ye shall be re- 
membered before the Lord your God (Num. x. 9) . . . 
They shall be to you for a memorial (ver. 10) ... A 
memorial of blowing of trumpets ' (Lev. xxiii. 24). 
God need not be reminded, but actions must be perfect 
to claim reward. Likewise must the ideas of the prayers 
be pronounced in the most perfect way to be considered 
as prayer and supplication. Now if thou bringest in- 
tention and action to perfection thou mayest expect 
reward. This is popularly expressed by reminding, and 
c the Torah speaks in the manner of human beings.' 20 
If the action is minus the intention, or the intention 
minus the action, the expectation [for reward] is lost, 
except in impossible things. It is, however, rather use- 
ful to show the good intention if the deed is impossible, 
as we express this in our prayer : ' On account of our 
sins have we been driven out of our land.* This sacred 
place serves to remind men and to stimulate them to 
love God, being a reward and promise, as it is written : 
' Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the 
time to favour her, yea, the set time is come. For thy 
servants take pleasure in her stones and embrace the 
dust thereof ' (Ps. cii. 14 sq.). This means that Jeru- 
salem can only be rebuilt when Israel yearns for it to 
such an extent that they embrace her stones and dust. 21 
28. Al Khazari : If this be so, it would be a sin to 
hinder thee. It is, on the contrary, a merit to assist 
thee. May God grant thee His help, and be thy pro- 
tector and friend. May He favour thee in His mercy. 22 

Completed is the book with the help of God and His 
assistance. Praise without end be to the Giver of Help. 



1 Ch. iii. v. 21-22. Cf. Peters, Der hebrdische Text des Ecclesi- 
asticus, pp. 5 and 322. 

2 Hagigah II. i. 

3 Talmud Hagigah, fol. 13 vo ; Jerushalmi, bh. ii. hal. i. 

4 Bereshith rabba, ch. viii. 

5 See Steinschneider, Die ardb. Literatur der Judek^gp. 13-44. 

6 Al Amdndt, ed. S. Landauer, p. 3 
? Ibid. p. 11. 1. 4. 

8 On the Hebrew translations of these works see Stein- 
schneider, Die hebrdiscken Uebersetzungen, etc. p. 298 sqq. and 
326 sqq. 

9 See Kaufmann, Geschichte der Attributenlehre, p. 123 sqq. 

10 Through Judah b. Tabbon's Hebrew version the name 
Kosari (or Kusari) has become popular. Isaac b. Cardinal, 
however, retained the original name ntD/K- See also my 
Arabic Chrestomathy, etc. p. 72. The pronunciations Cosri and 
Kuzri are incorrect. 

11 Only the preface and a short fragment (printed in D. Cassel's 
edition, pp. 16 and 338-357) have been preserved. See also 
Steinschneider, Die arabische Literatur, etc., p. 153. 

12 The name of Isaac Sangari (Sinjari) attributed to the Rabbi 
is not found either in the MSS. or in the earliest editions. This 
spurious name occurs first in Moses Nahmani's Dissertation (ed. 
Jellinek), p. 11. Facsimiles of the forged epitaphs of Isaac 
Sangari and his wife are given by Harkawy, Altjiidische Denk- 
maler aus der Krim. 

13 An English version of Hisdai b. Shaf rut's letter to the king 
of the Khazars, as well as of the reply of the latter, is to be found 
in Miscellany of Hebrew Literature, vol. i. p. 92-112. 

14 Found in the colophon of the Bodleian MS. of the Arabic 

15 First mentioned in the speech of the Christian Scholar. In 
several places, e.g. iii. 17, it assumes quite a personal character. 



The Arabic term amr for Logos appears already in the Koran, 
see my New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of the 
Qoran, p. 15 sqq. 

16 See S. Landauer, Die Psychologic des Ibn Slnd, ZDMG, vol. 
xxix. p. 335-418. Landauer offers many corrections of the 
(Hebrew) text of the Khazari. In one case, however, the Arabic 
text has the better reading, viz. fHt^ for "lXTi'N> (Land. p. 364, 
1. 4). In another case (p. 417, rem. 4) Landauer blames Judah 
Hallevi for senseless copying. The fault, lies, however, with the 
editors of the Hebrew text of the Khazari. The Arabic original 
agrees entirely with Ibn Sina's text. 

17 Aristotle, De Anima, ii. 1, frre\^xa ^ TT/SWTT; 
<f>v<rtKov 6pyavtKov. 



19 See Book i. par. 13 ; iv. par. 25. 

20 According to Al Ghazali ; see Schreiner in ZDMG, vol. xlii. 
p. 622. 

21 Mishnah Sotah, i. 7. 

22 Talmud Joma, fol. 38 vo. This doctrine is seemingly 
opposed to the other (Berakh5th, fol. 58 vo), that even the dis- 
tributor of water is appointed by heaven. The former, however, 
refers to man's actions, but the latter to his fate. 

23 See Albo's Ikkdrim, IV. i. 

24 See p. 157. 

25 Divan ed. Luzatto, fol. 41 sq. 

26 Morning service, beginning -p> pp- 

27 Attributenlehre, p. 270. 

27a See Monasschrift fur Geschichte und Wissenschaft des 
Judenthums, vol. xlii. 

28 Ibidem, p. 241 sqq. 

29 ZDMG, vol. xli. p. 541. 

30 Emunah Rdmdh, ed. Weil, p. 2. 

31 Ibidem, Principle v. 

32 Al Shahrastani, Creeds and Sects, ed. Cureton, p. 165 sq. ; 
see also my article Mohammedan Criticism of the Bible, JQR, 
1901, p. 222 sqq. 

33 Em. R. p. 78. 

34 See Guttmann, Die Religionsphilosophie des Abraham b. 
Daud, p. 209, and Saadyah, Amdndt, Book IV. ; Ikkdrim, IV. i. 

35 See Renan-Neubauer, Ecrivains juifs francais du 14 erne, 
siecle, p. 401. 

36 MS. of the Montefiore Library, see my Catalogue, No. 305, 1. 

PART I 299 

37 p. 27. 

38 7rmK3 *nn bx mJK beginning and end. 

39 Printed Ferrara, 1555, and Vienna, 1859 (ed. Stern). 

40 DW "VI pO, ch. xxxvi. 

41 Book IV, ch. i. 

42 Published in JQR, 1903. 

43 See my edition of the Arabic text, p. v. 

44 See Schreiner's articles in Monatsschrift, etc. vol. xlii. 

45 See Steinschneider, Verzeichniss der hebr. MSS. (der Koiigl. 
Bibliothek zu Berlin), p. 76. The author admits that no one 
adopts Islam except from fear or other external reasons. 

46 Polemische u. apologetische Literatur, etc. p. 37 sqq. 

47 Sa'd b. Mansur Ibn Kammuna und seine polemische Schrift 
etc. Leipzig, 1893, p. 9 sq. 

48 See my Chrestomathy, pp. 69-103. 

49 Arabische Literatur, p. 240. 

50 See Chrestomathy, p. 76. 

51 Basle, 1660. A complete bibliography of the editions of the 
Hebrew version of the book, as well as the commentaries and older 
translations, is given by the late Dr. David Cassel in his two 
editions (Leipzig, 1853 and 1869), which are accompanied by a 
German translation. Since then the Arabic original, together 
with Judah b. Tabbon's Hebrew version revised on the basis of 
the former and the various MSS. of the latter, was edited by 
the present translator (1887). who also published a German trans- 
lation direct from the Arabic in 1885. 

52 ... *3S? fhn *1T131 H !"!; second edition, Metz, 1780. 
An English translation of parts i. and ii. by the late Dr. L. Loewe 
was published London, 1853. A translation of the remaining 
parts by E. H. Lindo in MS. is preserved in the Montefiore 
Library, No. 527 (Catalogue, No. 307). 

53 Preface. 


1 Thus far wanting in the Arabic original, and supplemented 
from the Hebrew version. 

2 The anthromorphism of the Old Testament which Islam con- 
siders incompatible with true monotheism. 

3 Mohammed stamped every verse of the Koran a miracle. 

4 Koran ii. 21 and other places. 

5 Ibidem, xxxiii. 40. See my New Researches, etc. p. 23. 

6 Ibid. p. 5. 

7 " Arabic Koran " is a term intentionally employed by 


8 A. 1140, being the date of the composition of this work. 

9 The author's remark on the week of seven days should be 
restricted to Europe and Western Asia, as a seven days' week is 
unknown both hi the ancient Persian as well as central and 
eastern Asiatic nations. 

10 This notion also requires certain modifications. 

11 The Nabataeans were an Aramaic tribe living hi the north- 
west of the Arabian peninsula, whose many inscriptions give 
testimony of an ancient and highly developed civilization. The 
Nabataeans were credited with a work on agriculture which a 
certain Ibn Wahshiyya is said to have translated into Arabic. See 
Munk, Le Guide, iii. p. 231, and Steinschneider, Zur Pseudepi- 
graph. Literatur, p. 4. 

12 See p. 18 and Monatschrift vol. xxxiii. pp. 374-8. 

13 Physics, II. i. 

i* The king here alludes to himself ; see also the beginning of 
Book II. 

15 In contradistinction to the founders of the Christian and 
Mohammedan religions. 

is See Book II. 80. 

i? See remark 2. 

is Proverbial saying. Cf. Steinschneider, Die arabische Litera- 
tur der Juden, p. 19. 

19 See par. 49. 

20 Allusion to Ps. cii. 15 ; see also the end of the work. 

21 Original : believers, but the quotation of 1 Sam. v. 2 shows 
that we must read Philistines. 

22 Allusion to the founder of Islam. 

23 This remark forms the antithesis to that of the king in 
paragraph 6 that the Koran is written in Arabic. 

24 The Hebrew version differs here on account of a slight cor- 
ruption ; see my edition of the original p. xxvii. rem. 106. 

25 The Hebrew version has here a sentence which is not in the 

26 Allusion to Islam. 

2 7 Matthew v. 39, 40. 

28 Many passages in the Talmud and Midrashim contain 
allegorical allusions to paradise and hell, e.g. Berakh. fol. 19 vo ; 
Sanhedrin, fol. 102 vo ; Bev. Rabb. ch. vi. etc. 

29 Old Testament in general. 
3 <> Koheleth xii. 7. 

31 Al Khidhr is in the Arab legend the name of Elijah. 

32 See Gen. v. 24 ; 2 Kings ii. 11 sqq. 

33 Numb, xxiii. 10. 

PART II 301 

34 1 Sam. xxviii. 

35 In the liturgy of the daily morning prayer, according to the 
Spanish rite. The author reproduces it in Arabic translation. 

36 See Josh. xv. 8 ; 2 Kings xxiii. 10. 


1 The 3 in H5? }fcO also refers to the following 'd^l. 

2 See Book IV. par. 3. 

3 Cf. the words of the philosopher in the beginning of the 
work ; also iv. 3 and v. 14. 

4 Talmud Erubin, fol. 53 vo ; Ber. Rabba, ch. Iviii. 

5 See Numb, xxxiii. 13 sq. Alush was the place in which, 
according to Rabbinic tradition, the prohibition of gathering 
manna on the Sabbath was promulgated. 

6 According to the Talmud Joma, fol. 56 vo ; Sanh. fol. 37 vo. 

7 R5sh Hash. fol. 20 vo. The author explains this sentence 
in the latter part of the paragraph. 

8 See Book I. par. 57. 

9 Which was six hours in advance. 
1 Gen. i. 3. 

11 For six hours later Sabbath came to an end in Palestine. 

12 Viz. between China and Palestine. 

13 Of the last meridian. 

14 Mishnah, Ketuboth, xiii. 11. 

15 Talmud, Ketuboth, fol. 110 vo. 

16 Ibid. 

17 See Sifre on D^BSI^* 
is Ketub. fol. Ill vo. 
^ Ibid. 

20 Jerushalmi Ketub. xii. 3. 

21 Babli Ketub. fol. Ill vo. 

22 Based on Mishnah Aboda Zarah,fi. 8. 

23 Sanhedrin, fol. 31 vo. 

24 Mishnah Gittin, iv. 6. 

25 Baba Bathra, fol. 158 vo. 

26 Ketub. fol. Ill vo ; Pesahim, fol. 113 vo. 

27 Ketub. fol. 112 vo. 

28 Blessing after the recitation of the Haftarah, 

29 Based on Koran xvii. 1. 

30 Talmud Baba Bathra, fol. 25 vo. 

31 * Hooks ' not mentioned in Numbers iv. 31. 

32 From the well known Selihah. 


33 From the Amidah of the penitential days. 

34 Erroneous quotation. 

35 Book I. par. 95. 

36 By striking smaller lawful animals with their claws ; see 
p. 245, 

37 See Book I. par. 79. 

38 The Hebrew version renders : ' thousands and hundreds.' 
The author evidently only counts backwards to the cessation of 
prophecy, viz. forty years after the construction of the Second 
Temple. See Book III. pars. 39 and 65. 

39 Cf. Book I. par. 63. 
*o See Book I. par. 49. 

41 The author has the Arabic language in his mind. 

42 E.g. N13N, "HP. flE;?1 

43 Because in most cases one of them has a long vowel with 
virtual quiescense. 

44 E.g. 78 or ^ n , see below. 

45 Renders Arabic metres unfit for Hebrew without modifica- 

4 6 TON (=Gen. xxvii. 19) and rtjpta (^) In the Hebrew 
poems of the Spanish schools the Sheva mobile, representing 
w , is often made quiescent, leaving the word bisyllabic. The 
author himself was often guilty of such liberty, e.g. in his 
famous Zion song, 1. 2, "]D1/f 'CHn (dorshe for ddfshe). 

47 The ordinary liturgical Piyyut, which has not the strict 
form of the Arabic Kaslda, employs rhymed verses of approxi- 
mately equal number of syllables. 

48 See paragraphs 76 and 78. 

49 Like Arabic, Hebrew is built upon the three fundamental 
vowels, U, A, I. Rather obscure is that the author considers 
Kames as a great U-sound. This probably includes the Kaines 
hatuf (6), as well as the ordinary long Kames pronounced as a 
(in all). 

so Mobile. 

51 But short, requiring a virtual quiescence if lengthened. 

52 The author explains almost immediately what he means by 
the three forms, viz. (1) the ordinary etymological formation ; 
(2) changes by the rules of syntax ; (3) changes by accents. 

53 Instance of the first form. 

54 This passage is wanting in the original, and supplemented 
from the Hebrew version. 

55 He after sere only in the second form as H^yD in the 
status constructus. 


50 So according to the original TnrDD. It appears that Judah 
Ibn Tabbon was in doubt whether so to read, or 
(' vocalized '). The MSS. of his version vacillate between 
and yittjno. The former is evidently better. 

57 E.g., "6-TP1 Gen. xxxii, 6. 

58 E.g., TO Num. xii. 9. 

59 Of which the first two are short. 

60 The author read "P?.^, although the Masorah has an ordinary 

ei E.g. pK Gen. xxi. 1. 

62 E.g. 7?K Ezek. xviii. 15. 

63 E.g. "loan Ezek. xxx. 18. 

64 e into a 

65 Cf. rem. 55. 

66 E.g. nfeWl Josh. vii. 9. 

67 Since in most cases the status constr. has a shorter form. 

PART in 

1 See Book II. par. 50. 

1:1 Allusion to circumcision among Mohammedans. 

2 Talmud Taanith, fol. 21 vo ; Sanh. fol. 108 vo. 

3 Wanting in the original and supplemented from the Hebrew 

4 Passover Haggadah. 

5 See Book IV. par. 25. 

5* See Mishnah, Rosh Hash. iv. 5. 

6 Wanting in the original and supplemented from the Hebrew 

7 See preceding remark. 

7(1 Republ. 369 C. ; 374 A. ; 464 B. 

8 Allusion to the Karaites. 

9 See p. 81. 

10 Wanting in the original. 

11 Wanting in the original. 

12 Ibn Ezra in Sahoth discusses this point, quoting several other 
instances. He, however, prefers i~!* The author endeavours 
to ascribe to the Masorah the authority of the traditional law. 

13 Wanting in the original. 

14 See Talmud Kiddushin, fol. 30 vo ; Mass. Soferim ix. 2. 

15 Wanting in the original. 

16 Wanting hi the original. 


17 Lived about 760, and is commonly regarded as the founder 
of the Karaite sect. 

18 Of Nahawend (about 800), another Karaite teacher. 

19 Anan's son and successor. 

20 Literally : the problem of Exod. xii. 1. The calculation 
of the new moon forms one of the most trenchant differences 
between the Rabbanites and the Karaites, the latter fixing the 
calendar on the time when the new moon reappears in the sky. 

21 Refers to the incident related in the Mishnah Rosh-Hash. ii. 
8, 9, regarding a difference of opinion as to the proper date of 
the Day of Atonement. 

22 Proverbial saying ; see Goldziher in ZDMG, li. p. 472. 

23 The Rabbanite authorities. 

24 This distinction is only made by the Spanish rite. 

25 See pars. 65 and 76. 

26 Tosifta Sotah, ch. xiii. 

27 Mishnah Jqma v. 2-3 ; Shekalim. vi. 1-2, cf. Tosifta S5ta, 
ibid, and Seder Olam ch. xxiv. 

28 See Book II. par. 64. 

28a According to the calculation of Arab astronomers. 

29 Connexion of two places removed from each other by two 
thousand yards. 

30 Ritual connexion of houses within the same precincts. 

31 The author here casts a side glance at the elaborate Moham- 
medan legends on Solomon's intercourse with the Queen of Sheba. 
They are also embodied hi the Arabian Nights, Nos. 868-878. 

32 See pars. 39 and 67. 

33 Mishnah Hagigah ii. 7. 

34 Mishnah Sotah ix. 9. 

35 Based on the Talmud Berakh5th, fol. 48 vo ; Kiddushin, 
fol. 48 vo ; cf. Josephus, Antiquities, ch. xiii. 18. 

S6 The Amidah. 

37 Cf. Talm. Sabbath, fol. 30 vo ; Jerush. Taauith, ch. iv. 2 ; 
Midrash Beresh. Rabb. ch. xcviii ; Sifre towards the end. 

38 Talm. Succah, fol. 28 vo. ; Baba Bathra, fol. 134 vo. 

39 According to Gittin, fol. 56 vo ; Sifre, and Aboth de R. 
Nathan, ch. iv. 

40 Spurious work containing an abstract of the history of the 
people of Israel, calendar calculations and symbolic notes on the 

41 A mystic work, ascribed to R. Ishmael ; see Ph. Bloch, Ge- 
schichte d. Entwickelung d. Kabbala, p. 17. 

42 Cabbalistic writings, ascribed to the same author, see Zunz, 
Gottesdiensttiche Vortrdge, 2nd ed. p. 176. 

PART IV 305 

43 Talm. Berachoth, fol. 7 vo. 

44 See above annot. 21. 
Aboth ii. 8. 

4 <5 See Book II. par. 64. 

4 ? See Mishnah Jedaim iii. 5 ; Talmud, Zebach, fol. 11 vo 
(Simon b. Azzai). 

48 Talm. Hagiga, fol. 14 vo. This allegory typifies students of 

41 Ben Azzai. 

50 Ben Zoma. 

si Elisha b. Abujah. 

52 Bemidmar Rabba, ch. xix. The late Dr. D. Cassel has 
pointed out (p. 289, rem. 2) that the author here mistook R. 
Akibah for Hillel. 

53 Berach., fol. 61 vo. 

6 4 See par. 12. 

53 Syro-Grecian era, beginning October 1, 312, before the 
Christian era. 

56 Thus enriching the Hebrew grammar and dictionary. 

57 Mishnah Peah ii. 6. 
ss See Aboth ch. i. 

59 Mishnah Edujoth viii. 7. 

60 In favour of the opponents of the Talmud. 
6 a Against the method of the Talmud. 

61 The so-called seven Noahide commandments ; of. Talmud 
Sanhedrin, fol. 60 vo. 

62 Talm. Berakh. fol. 3 vo. 

6 3 Talm. Pesah. fol. 54 vo ; Nedar, fol. 39 vo. 
e 4 Ab5th, ch. v. 8. 

65 Aboda Zarah, fol. 19 vo. 

66 Mishnah Edujoth i. 3. 


1 See Part I. p. 36. 

2 See the Philosopher's speech at the beginning of the work. 

3 Against 160 as stated by the author himself, p. 178. 

4 Plato in Timaeus, ch. xxx. 13 ; Aristotle, De Mundo, ch. vi. 

5 See Part II, par. 23. 

6 The black stone in the Kaha at Mecca. 

7 The so-called Kibla. When Mohammed first instituted a 
regular worship at Medina, he commanded believers to turn their 


faces towards Jerusalem. Subsequently, however, he changed 
this for Mecca. 

s See p. 36 and 218. 

9 Probably the well-known saying in which Socrates declared 
that human knowledge was insignificant, but that he had a 
clearer understanding of this than most other people. See, Plato, 
Apologia, ch. vi. See also Book V. par. 14 (p. 272). 

10 Mecca. 

" Talmud Hullin, ol. 4 vo. 

12 Allusion to the Sefer Jesirah, which, according to the author, 
contains Abraham's metaphysical speculations before God re- 
vealed Himself to him. 

13 Talmud, Sabbath, fol. 156 vo ; Nedarim, fol. 32 vo. 

14 Cf. The philosopher's speech at the beginning of the work. 

15 See Part III. par. 35. 

16 Honorary title of the Medinian citizens who adopted Islam 
during Mohammed's life-time. 

" See Part I. p. 78. 

18 The author here alludes to Arab and Persian poems in the 
style of Ibn Sina, Oma Kayyam, and others. 

19 The * Book of Creation ' (iTV^ 13D discussed in the fol- 
lowing paragraph, is a kind of mystic cosmogony, ascribed to the 
Patriarch Abraham. The time of its composition can be ap- 
proximately fixed as between the conclusion of the Talmud on 
one side and Saadyah (who wrote a commentary on the work) on 
the other, or between the eighth and ninth centuries. See also 
Bloch, I.e. p. 22 sqq. 

20 The Ptolemaean planetary system in reversed order. 

21 69 E ; 70, A. 

22 Mishnah Haglgah ii, 1. 

23 Dragon line was a name applied by early astronomers to 
the line which connects the two crossing points of the moon's 
sphere with the ecliptic. 

23a Play upon the words J3y and yjj according to the position 
of the V at the beginning or at the end of the word. 

24 See Talm. Haglgah, fol. 12 vo. 

25 According the formula n -^ J* if n = 22. 

26 Formula of Permutations. 
26 * P. 18, and Part L, p. 37. 

27 Liturgy of the daily morning service. 

2 See Part IV. par. 17, and Talm. Sabbath, fol. 56 vo. 
29 Not to be found in any of Plato's writings ; cf. Stein- 
schneider, Zur Pseudepigr. Lit. pp. 52 and 79. 

PART IV 307 

so Literally : Place. 

31 See Part II. par. 64 ; III. par. 35. 

32 From the moment of the appearance of one new moon to 
the next. One hour = 1,080 fractions ; 793 fractions are therefore 
equal to 44 min. 3 sec. 

33 The equinox of spring. Tekufdh means course of the sun, 
but the term is applied to the four seasons, each lasting 91 days 
1\ hours. The telcufah of Nisan begins with the entrance of the 
sun into the sign of Aries. From the verse Deut. xvi. 1 it is 
deducted that Passover is to be celebrated after the tekufiih of 

3* Talm. Rosh Hash. fol. 21 vo. 

35 Famous Arab astronomer of the ninth century. 

36 See Part II. par. 20. 

37 See Part III. par. 65. 

38 Talm. Berach. fol. 58 vo. 

30 Termination of the conjunction and appearance of the new 

40 Body physician to the Emperor Commodus, and greatest 
medical authority during the whole of the Middle Ages. 

41 Talmud Hullin, fol. 56 vo. 
Ibid. 45 vo (Mishnah iii. 1). 

43a Ibid. 470. 

44 Mishnah, Hullin, vii. 1. 

45 Ibid. viii. 5. 

4 6 Talm. ibid. fol. 93 ro. 

47 Ibid. fol. 51 ro. 
4 Ibid. fol. 47 ro. 
4 Ibid. fol. 46 ro. 

50 Ibid. fol. 47 vo. ; Sabbath, fol. 134 ro. 

61 Talm. Hul. fol. 49 ro. 

62 Ibid. fol. 50 vo., 51 ro. 

63 Ibid. fol. 65 ro. 

54 Mishnah, Bekh5r5th iii. 1. 
Talm. Hul. fol. 52 sq. 

66 Mishnah, ibid. iii. 1, 2. 

67 Talm. ibid. fol. 55 vo. 

68 Mishnah, ibid. iii. 2. 

6 9 Mishnah, Bekhor, chs. vi and viii. 

so Mishnah, Oholot i. 9 ; Negaim vi. 7-8. 



1 Wanting in the original. 

2 Paragraphs 7 and 8 are wanting in the Arab original. 

3 The author probably means the Historia Animalism. 

4 See Part I. par. 72. 
s See p. 149. 

6 The alffd-nr-fipLov KOIVOV of Aristotle (Da Anima iii. 1). 

7 Ibn Tabbon read D^NJ/PK and therefore translates 
' the world.' 

8 See p. 218. 

8 See pages 89, 186, 210. 

9 Kaldm (dialectic discussion) is a technical term for the 
philosophic treatment of religious axioms. It originated with 
the Moslem theologians of the Mutazilite school, who supple- 
mented the simple belief in God by argumentation. On account 
of their rejection of the Rabbinic tradition the Karaites were 
forced to adopt the Mutazilite Kalam. 

10 See p. 145. 

11 Wanting in the original. 

12 Wanting in the original. 

" See Part III. par 17, and IV. 25. 

14 See Talm. Berakh. fol. 7 ; Aboth iii. 15. 

15 See the Philosopher's speech at the beginning of the work. 
*e See Part II. par. 12 sqq. 

17 According to Makkoth, fol. 2 vo. 

" See p. 21. 

19 See p. 79 and 226. 

20 See Talm. KetubSth, fol. 67 vo ; Kiddushin, fol. 17 vo. 

31 See the author's ' Song of Zion,' 1. 12, where these words of 
the Psalm are reproduced. 

22 The Hebrew version has here several sentences which are 
wanting in the original, but are probably added by the translator., 



Abraham b. Dawud 

Abtalion , .... 188 
Academy (Plato's) 
Active Intellect . 

Ad5nai 221 

Akibah 190 


Amoraim 191 

Amr .... 

Anan 169 


Aristotle . . 3, I 
Articles of Creed . 
Al Ash'ari 


Avicenna, see Ibn Sma 

Azaria de Rossi . 

Bahya b. Bakuda . 

Al Battani 

BenSira .... 

Benjamin (Karaite Doctor) 169 

Boethos 187 

Brahmans .... 
Buxtorf (Johannes) . 
David Bonet Don Giorno 
David Merwan Almukam- 

Eh'yeh 202 

Eighteen Benedictions 
Eighteen Hours . . 


\, 292 





Elazar b. Arakh . 
Eliezer b. Azariah 


. . 189 
. . 190 
. . 189 

Erub .... 

. . 180 

Empedocles . 
Epicurus . 

. 239, 273 
. . 283 

FratMaimon . 
Free Will . . . 
Galen . 

. . 29 
. 279 sqq. 
243 252 

Gamaliel . 

. 189 

Al Ghazali . . 

. . 81 

. . 5, 20 

Golden calf . . 
Hakkarath Panim 
Hebrew Language 
Hekhaloth . . 

. . 64 
. . 189 
. . 124 
. . 283 
. . 189 


. . 38 

Hillel . 


Hylic Intellect . . 263,292 
IbnHazm .... 5 
IbnSina .... 4, 6, 17 
Isaac Al Israili . . .2,67 
Isaac b. Judah Cardinal . 6 
R. Ishmael .... 195 
Ishmael b Elisha . . 189 
Jacob b. Hayyim Farissol 29 
Jannai ... - - 187 


. . 52 






Johanan b. Zakkai . 

. 188 

Jonathan b. Uzziel . 

. 188 

R. J5se . . . . 

. 189 

Jose the Galilaean . 

. 190 

Jose b. Joezer 

. 187 

Joshua b. Korhah 

. 191 

Joshua b. Perahyah . 

. 187 

Joseph Albo . 

. 30 

Joseph b.' Johanan . 

. 187 

Joseph b. Saddik 

. 23 

R. Judah (Hannasi) . 

. 191 

Judah Muscato . 

. 27 

Judah b. Tabbai . . 

. 187 

Judah b. Tabbon 


Kalam ... 3, 

274 sqq. 

Karaites . 

164, 187 

Khazar Letters . 

. 33 

Koran . 


Law of Retaliation . 

. 175 

Logos . 


Maaseh Merkabah 

189, 212 

Maimonides . 

25 sqq. 

R. Mayyasha . . . 

. 192 

Medabberim . 


R. Meir . 


Mohammed . 

. 11 


96, 242 

Morinus . 


Mu'tazila . 


Mutakallims . 


Nabataeans . 

. 52 

Nahum the Scribe 

. 192 

R. Nathan . . . 

. 191 

Nathan Habbabli . 

. 245 

Nathanael Caspi . 

. 29 


. 242 

Nieto (David) . . 

. 33 

Nittai of Arbela . . 

. 187 

Parables . 

57, 159 

Passive Intellect . 

37, 265 

Peripatetics . 

. 273 


Plato . . 3,22,38,232,273 
Potential Intellect, see 

Hylic Intellect 

Practical Reason . . 266 
Prime Cause ... 20 sqq. 

Profet Duran ... 27 sqq. 
Proverbial Sayings 

64, 170, 196, 224 

Ptolemaean System . . 6 

Pythagoras . . . . 273 

Ritual Purity ... 176 

Roanai 53 

Robert of An jou ... 27 

Saadyah 3,4 

Sabaeans 107 

Sa'd b. Mansur ... 31 

Sadok 187 

Samuel (Astronomer) . 242 

Samuel b. Abbas . . 31 

Saul (Karaite Doctor) . 169 

Sefer Jesirah . 15, 228 sqq. 

Shaddai 86 

Shema'yah .... 188 

Shemaryah of Nigropontis 27 

SheurKomah ... 212 

Simon b. Jotyai ... 190 

Simon the Just . . . 187 

Simon b. Shetah ... 187 
Socrates . .38,136,218,272 

Solomon Vivas of Lunel . 29 

Soul 260 sqq. 

Tannaim 191 

R. Tarfon .... 190 

Ten Categories ... 272 

Tekufah 241 

Tetragrammaton . 83, 199 
Theoretical Reason . . 265 
Thirteen Rules of Inter- 
pretation .... 193 

Timaeus 232 

Warsan 82 






Genesis i. 2 . 

. 235 

Exodus xix. 20 . . . 


,, 3, 5 

. 94 

xx. 5, 6 . . . 


26 . 

. 209 



99 **** * 

31 . . . 

. 256 

25 ... 


ii. 6 . . . 

. 14 

xxii. 26 . . . 


14 . . . 

. 91 

xxiii. 26 ... 


16 . . . 

14, 143 

31 ... 


19 . . . 

. 229 

xxiv. 10 . . 204, 217 

iv. 16 . . 

. 89 

17 ... 


,,25 . . 

. 90 

xxv. 2, 8 . . 


v. 3 . . . 

. 90 

xxx. 24 ... 


27 . . . 

. 135 

xxxiii. 5 ... 


vi. 6 . . . 

. 195 

9, 14, 15 . 


xv. 5 . 

. 223 

23 . . 


,,16 . . 

. 110 

xxxiv. 6 ... 


17 . . 

. 92 

9 . . . 


,, 18 . . 

. 132 

xxxix. 43 


xvii. 7 

. 142 

Leviticus i. 9 . 


13 . . 

. 108 

viii. 15, 19, 23 


20,21 . 

. 90 

xi. 42 . . . 


xx. 5 . . . 

. 130 

xiv. 49 ... 


xxi. 1, 6 . . 

. 131 

xvi. 5-10 . . 


xxii. 1 

. 282 

xix. 2 . . . 


,, 10 . . 

. 283 

,,17. . . 


,, 14 . . 

. 91 

xxi. 8 ... 


xxiii. 31 . 

. 90 

xxii. 33 . . 


xxvii. 33 

. 128 

xxiii. 11, 15, 16 


xxviii. 11 

. 91 

32 . . 


13 . 

. 114 

xxiv. 20 . . 


,, 17 . 

. 91 

xxv. 6 ... 


xxx. 24 . . 

. 133 

xxvi. 45 


xli. 38, 39 . 

. 221 

Numbers iv. 16 . 


Exodus iii. 12, 14 . 

. 202 

vi. 24 . . . 


v. 2 . . . 

. 221 

vii. 7-9 . . 


vi.3 . . . 

. 86 

viii. 11 . 


vii. 16 . . 

. 46 

x. 9-10 . . 


xii. 2 . . . 

. 166 

35, 36 . . 


,,6. . . 

. 132 

xi.25 . . . 


XV. 11 . . 

. 202 

xii. 8 . . . 


xvi. 29 . . 

. 167 

xv. 16 ... 


xviii. 16 . . 

. 172 

39 . . . 






Numbers xv. 41 . . . 115 

2 Samuel vi. 14-21 . 

. 119 

xix. ... 181 

1 Kings iii. 16 

. 185 

xxiii. 10 .. 80 

viii. 64, 299 . 

. 172 

xxvii. 13 . . 133 

xi. 9 . . . 

. 214 

xxviii. 2 . . 101 

xiii. 6 

. 203 

Deuteronomy i. 19 . . 91 

xviii. 21 . 

. 219 

iv.2 . . 173 

xix. 10 . . 

. 49 

6 . 165, 172 

xxii. 19-23 . 

. 195 

25 . . 108 

2 Kings ii. 3 . . . 

. 272 

32sqq.. 114 

x. 18 . . . 

. 219 

v. 14 . . 168 

Isaiah ii. 3 ... 

. 170 

vi. 13 . . 205 

vi. 1-2 . . 

. 210 

16 . 21,293 

6 . . . 

. 212 

x. 12 . Ill, 112 

12 . . . 

. 210 

xi. 12 .. 89 

xlix. 3 ... 

. Ill 

20 . . 119 

Iii. 1 . . . 

108, 225 

xii. 19 .. 29 

13 . . . 

. 11 

xiii. 1 . 13,173 

liii. 3, 4 . . 

108, 110 

3 . . 292 

Ivii. 15 . . 

. 226 

xvi. 1 . . 241 

Iviii. 12 . . 

. 117 

xvii. 9 . . 171 


19 . 105 

ii. 7 . . 

. 99 

xviii. 18 . 173 

vii. 21 . . 

. 112 

xxi. 10 . 168 

x. 15 . . 

. 291 

xxii. 7 . . 

xxix. 10 . 

. 172 

xxiii. 4 

Ezekiel i. 15 . . . 

. 240 

xxiv. 8 .119 

,,28 . . . 

. 200 

xxvi. 11 . 148 

xxxvii. 1 

. 106 

13 . 144 

3, 11 

. 150 

19 98,117 

Hoseah x. 14 . . . 

. 129 

xxviii. 47, 49 148 

Amos iii. 2 ... 

. 110 

xxx. 2, 4 . 108 

Jonah i. 3 . 

. 90 

xxxii. 4 . . 149 

iii. 9 ... 

. 214 

8 . . 92 

Micah iv. 2 

. 96 

12 . . 201 

vi. 8 . . . 

. Ill 

Joshua iii. 10 ... 104 

vii. 1 ... 

. 187 

xxiv. 19 . . . 119 

Nahum i. 2 . 

. 83 

Zephanyah i. 12 . 

. 218 

1 Samuel iii. 1 ... 136 

Zechariah ii. 16 . . 

. 100 

iv.4 . . . 114 

Psalms ix. 12 . . . 

. 114 

vi. 19 ... 119 

xvii. 3 . . 

. 141 

x.6,9 . . . 222 

xix. 2 . . 

. 117 

xxvi. 10 . . 284 

xxiv. 4 . . 

. 164 





Psalms xxxi. 12 . 

. 130 

Proverbs xxviii. 1 

. . 140 

xxxiv. 9 

. 224 

Job 15 


xlii. 5 

. 161 

21 . . . 

. . 152 

xlvii. 6 . . 

. 201 

xxxi. 26, 27 . 

. . 152 

K. 17 

. 222 

xxx vi. 31 . 

. . 253 

Ixxi. 15 . . 

. 148 

Canticles v. 2-5 . 

. . 100 

xciv. 2, 3, 9 . 

. 145 

vii- 3 . 

. . 130 

xcvii. 1 . 

. 277 

Lament, iv. 18 

. . 164 

xcix. 5, 9. 

97, 101 

Esther i. 6 . . 

. . 130 

cii. 14 . . 

. 295 

ii. 5 . . 

. . 133 

ciii. 19 

. 212 

Eccles. iii. 21 . . 

. . 129 

civ. . . 17, 

252 sqq. 

v. 1 . . 

. . 204 

cvi. 35 . . 

. 110 

7 . . 

. . 174 

cxxiii. 1 . 


Daniel ii. 11 . 

. . 102 

cxxxv. 21 

. 115 

vii. 9 . . 

. . 210 

cxxxvi. 4 

. 85 

10 . . 

. . 214 

6 . 

. 253 

Nehemiah viii. 14 

. . 184 

cxxxix. 1 

. 145 

ix. 10 . 

. . 117 


. 278 

x. 33 . 

. . 172 

21 . 

. 207 

xiii. 1 . 

. . 184 

cxlvi. 10 . . 

. 212 

1 Chron. xii. 18 . 

. . 222 

cxlvii. 20 

. 118 

xviii. 9 . 

. . 23 

Proverbs xvi. 32 . 

. 137 

xxviii. 9 

. . 292 

xxi. 30 . . 

. 164 

2 Chron. xvi. 9 . 

. . 145 

Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London,